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How Will COVID-19 Change the Healthy Building Movement in Hospitals?

By Team Altus | Published May 15, 2020 | 7 min read

How will COVID-19 change the healthy building movement in hospitals?

Humans spend the majority of their time indoors, so buildings have a major impact on our health. COVID-19 has heightened awareness of the spaces humans occupy. Hospitals have accelerated their involvement in the healthy building movement.

The movement can be broken down by supporting the physical, psychological, and social health and well-being of people in buildings. Leaders who demonstrate their commitment to the healthy building movement are not only enhancing human health, but they are designing buildings that appeal to stakeholders. Here’s how COVID-19 will change the healthy building movement in hospitals:

Physical Health

The pandemic had healthcare leaders quickly come together to create new solutions and equipment to combat the virus. Healthy building design will include ergonomic equipment ventilator and telehealth workstations on wheels to support clinicians while they are caring for patients.

When the virus struck, there was an immediate shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). Healthy building design will have a stock of health equipment to minimize exposure to hazards. Protection and separation solutions such as glass shields in between workstations and face shields will technologically advance as interest increases.

Ventilation in hospital buildings prevents the spread of airborne diseases, like the coronavirus which according to the CDC can spread through respiratory droplets when a person coughs, sneezes, or talks. New design trends will circulate air more, add more fresh air, and increase filtration. Think advanced cooling systems that mimic natural airflow, UV air treatment, negative air pressure, filtration and humidity systems, and high-efficiency fans. Monitoring air quality and ventilation can have a dramatic impact on keeping patients and staff healthy.

Safety and Sanitizing

The coronavirus pandemic has heightened concerns about safety and sanitizing. Cleaning in hospitals isn’t new - it’s a process that’s looked at constantly as a cleaning protocols matter to everyone who occupies the space and prevents the spread of viruses.

Download our workstation cleaning guide for hospitals below.

INFOGRAPHIC Medical Workstation Cleaning Guide

There will be a greater interest in making sure medical equipment can be cleaned with hospital EPA approved disinfectants against the coronavirus. Viral-resistant surfaces including countertops, work surfaces and flooring will be sought after. There will be greater demand for voice control, so people don’t have to touch elevator buttons and devices. And if they do, self-sanitizing door handles will add as extra security.

Altus worksurfaces can be cleaned with EPA approved disinfectants against COVID-19.

Worksurface Disinfectants for COVID-19

Psychological Health

Incorporating natural elements in your environment has gone from trendy to necessary. Natural elements make us happier, healthier, and more creative. They also have been proven to help patients heal faster. The benefits of nature-inspired surroundings to mental health are significant. Sunlight and greenery are linked to positive psychological health outcomes such as reduced stress and an increase in productivity and happiness. From indoor plants to woodgrain worksurfaces – there is an opportunity to incorporate biophilia in every corner.

Natural light not only helps save energy, but it makes for happier and more productive patients and staff. Designers are likely to focus on lighting-design that links to outdoor light accomplished with task lighting, dimmers, timers, skylights, and light bulb design.

Social Health

Social distancing has dominated our lives the past few months and it is clear how much we crave human interaction. Post-pandemic hospital design will support human interaction but with physical separation in mind. Think socially distant areas, telehealth, shielded glass, and virtual visitor carts. An uptick in easy-to-use technology will help patients not feel isolated. Always-on communications like Zoom and virtual exercise products like Peloton will help humans stay connected.

Well-Being of People

To prevent the spread of the virus, some hospitals have not permitted visitors. Patients checking in with families is crucial to patient well-being. Hospitals have opted for tablets for patients and access video tools to see their families. The future of healthy building will include virtual visitor carts for individual patients.

Likewise, to keep the spread of the virus, a substantial amount of virtual appointments between a patient and their doctor have taken place. Telehealth software and telehealth workstations are on the rise as an affordable and flexible solution to care for those without spreading infection.

With this comes a need for hospital buildings to have spaces for virtual calls designed for minimizing distractions including noise control and physical separation.

Security

Healthy buildings will increase security involving monitoring not just who enters but what they are physically or internally carrying. Already we are seeing hospital and airport entrances taking temperatures and in some workplaces, they are temperature detector cameras set up. This added security will help prevent the spread of viruses.

Certification Programs

Third-party certification program grams such as LEED, Fitwel or WELL can help you evaluate your hospital against building efficiency and sustainability. Hospital LEED certifications can be used as a competitive edge.

Download for information on how Altus' medical workstations can increase your LEED Points.

Healthy Building Movement Becomes a Standard

COVID-19 has added a substantial amount of awareness and interest for the healthy building movement. Healthier indoors doesn’t just help us prevent the spread of disease, they also enhance cognitive performance. These healthy building movement techniques will likely become a standard in not just hospitals, but across a wide range of industries such as education, residential and commercial real estate and manufacturing. Humans will become selective about the quality of the spaces that they occupy, and hospitals with the best healthy building techniques will likely get the traffic.

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