Resilient Health Care Design

Amy Eagle

January 7, 2015

Health Facilities Management

When catastrophe strikes, one service a community can’t lose is the hospital. Health care organizations must continue to operate in a crisis. This is a matter of patient safety, business continuity and public service, says Doug Erickson, FASHE, CHFM, HFDP, CHC, chair of the Health Guidelines Revision Committee, which oversees the Guidelines for Design and Construction of Health Care Facilities.

Past storms and earthquakes with names that read like a rogues’ gallery of ruin — Sandy, Isaac, Ike, Katrina, Allison, Northridge and Andrew — have shown how important it is for certain hospital buildings to withstand high winds, flooding or seismic activity. In a practice known as “resilient design,” health care design and construction professionals are drawing on these experiences to develop facilities made to resist a variety of natural or human-induced disasters and to recover quickly afterward.

“That’s a new term we’re using in health care now, since Sandy,” says Mark Kenneday, CHFM, FASHE, vice chancellor for campus operations at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. Recovery costs to the New York health care sector following Hurricane Sandy in 2012 were estimated at $3.1 billion, highlighting the importance of this issue.

But it’s a question the health care community has been engaged with for some time, Kenneday notes: How do you harden facilities to ensure that operations can persist, millions of dollars and years of research aren’t lost and health care is maintained under almost any circumstances, without breaking the bank?

Health care organizations that have weathered catastrophes are showing how by rebuilding facilities stronger and better than they were.

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