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How Covid-19 Is Transforming Hospital Designs & Healthcare Facilities
With the healthcare facilities being the battleground and countries across the world especially India falling short on the hospital beds, there should be no doubt that the post Covid era is going to be very different from the Pre-Covid era.
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The Covid-19 pandemic will act as a milestone in human history. At present, the hospitals are said to be divided into three spaces the Pre-Covid, during Covid and the Post-Covid. With the healthcare facilities being the battleground and countries across the world especially India falling short on the hospital beds, there should be no doubt that the post Covid era is going to be very different from the Pre-Covid era.
Some countries like China set at ground zero of the Covid-19 pandemic and then reportedly installed a 1000 beds hospital in one day. However, India was not able to do such thing, the main reason being, there was a major difference in the pattern of the Covid-19 infection and the way it spread.
Dr Sheetal Chaurasia, Consultant- Pulmonary Medicine, Manipal Hospitals, Whitefield said that “The spread of Covid-19 was initially localized in the Wuhan province of China; hence, it was easier to control the situation and to mobilize the facilities. However, on the contrary, in India, with the ongoing international flights, it was detected in almost every state. Hence, when we have such a huge area it becomes difficult to control or manage the situation or even to mobilize facilities”.
One of the major problems which were faced by not only India but also America and several European countries is the shortage of beds in hospitals. The emergency rooms and the ICUs were filled with patients, and mostly the hotels and other spaces were forced to be converted into the Covid-19 facility centres. Hence, many experts are suggesting that future hospital designs should be changed and made more flexible to be able to accommodate more people in case a situation like this occurs in the future.
“The ratio of the hospital beds and the population of India are certainly different, and however, in India, 60-70 per cent of the patients did not require constant monitoring, hence, they were able to stay at home”. However, “the people who were positive and couldn’t afford to isolate themselves were provided with the isolation centres. Hence, I feel that there was a positive use of the hospital's beds, as they were given to the people who needed them the most”, said Dr Sheetal.
As the virus is spreading across continents it is obvious that the new normal called for new approaches in the hospital building, design and architecture. Also, modifying existing concepts to the new requirement of creating isolation and contaminated zones at high speed. Innovations in the healthcare systems are happening at a rapid rate. There have been portable digital clinics which is protect with UV-C light disinfection, doctors are meeting their patients over video calls and examinations are also happening in a much lesser time, and there is a barrier between the patient and the doctors and nurses.
Adjusting to the new normal has both positive as well as the negative side. It is dangerous for some patients who cannot come for their regular check-ups, or cannot follow up with the doctor on a regular basis. Doctors at present are only attending the patients who are in a critical condition. Hence, it is not good for patients, especially the patients who have some kind of respiratory problems they first have to be tested for Covid-19, hence, it is delaying their treatment, said Dr Sheetal when asked.
She also added that for doctors the problem is that because the patient cannot be examined closely, hence, there is a 20-30 per cent chance of not being accurate about the disease.
One clear lesson which we all can learn from the pandemic is that modern hospitals often lack the flexibility to accommodate a sudden surge of patients. In particular, the space crisis was one of the major crises which the hospitals had to face during the pandemic. One thing which we all should agree on is that we should always be prepared, and we should not necessarily need a pandemic to get us to update our facilities or the existing infrastructure. One of the lessons which we should learn is to create spaces which can be used alternatively.
Another lesson which we have learned from the pandemic is to maintain hygiene, especially respiratory hygiene, as pointed out by Dr Sheetal Chaurasia, of the Manipal Hospital, Whitefield. In India, there already exists a number of respiratory diseases, and maintaining hygiene can help us stay fit and away from these diseases.