NORR’s Philadelphia Health Sciences Principal, Haley Driscoll, participated in an Interior Design Roundtable Article: Designing for Infection Prevention and Healing Spaces in a Post-Pandemic World. Hosted by wallprotex, they asked healthcare interior designers to share their perspectives on “what are your preferred design solutions for infection prevention?” Here is Haley’s response.
As we are facing the design challenges of the pandemic, it’s hard not to look ahead and try to understand what the future will look like for the design of healthcare facilities.While talking to clients, they don’t really know either. A vaccine is their first hope, rather than making big financial changes to facilities and processes.
For the most part, the areas that are facing the biggest challenges are waiting areas and public areas in both outpatient and inpatient settings. Clinical care areas, such as exam rooms and patient rooms are already designed to meet most of the criteria for infection control as it relates to design and finishes and are very comprehensively addressed in the FGI and by infection control officers within healthcare facilities. It’s the common visitor spaces that often get left open to interpretation. In the common waiting areas, the greatest single area that can be addressed is the furniture. We know proximity and touchable surfaces are the most common ways infection is spread. I believe adaptability in planning layouts and cleanability are the most important aspects of addressing infection prevention. We are looking at creating flexible furniture plans that can be easily adapted to create social distancing when necessary as well as furniture designs that can be easily modified simply by removing or adding back in the seats as conditions require. We no longer recommend ganged seating options for this reason.
Patients for the most part are coming to facilities alone without the assistance of any companion so ensuring universal accessibility is important. The selections for finishes must withstand a wider array of disinfectants, understanding that supply chain disruptions are likely and out of our control. All of these interventions can be done while still creating an environment that encourages a sense of healing and wellness for the patients and hopefully their companions again someday.