COVID-19 pandemic will act as a landmark in human history. To make things fun, let’s divide the period into three categories; before COVID-19 (BC), during COVID-19 (DC), and after COVID-19 (AC)
With healthcare facilities on the frontline and India falling well short of hospital beds, there is no question that AC would be very specific from BC healthcare facilities.
When the Chinese authorities officially constructed a 1,000-bed hospital in 10 days and then topped it with a new one in six days, the pattern was set at Ground Zero of the SARS-nCoV epidemic.
Closer to home, Mumbai authorities have set up a mega-hospital in the exhibition grounds. And on July 2, at the HIEX- Health Innovation Exchange organized by UNAIDS and other partners, Glocal Healthcare’s HellolyfCX Wireless Dispensary received the Public Appreciation Award 2020. Even in a pandemic like COVID19, HellolyfCX, a wireless dispensary which is a portable digital clinic that is safe, covered by UV-C light disinfection, positive pressure, and an acrylic barrier between the nurse and the patient.
Doctors can see the patient remotely on video, conduct remote assessments via the IoT, all tests are carried out within 15 minutes using access diagnostics, and drugs are easily dispensed from a phone.
It was clear that the modern norm called for new approaches to the design and construction of healthcare facilities as the epidemic spread across continents. Or to adapt existing principles to the latest criteria for the development of high-speed separation and isolation zone.
But is there any hope for turning around existing medical facilities?
Few architects believe that the future reuse of under-utilized concrete works that are already in places, such as Mohalla clinics and government dispensaries, needs to be actively considered. This plan would meet the growing needs of hospital wards and act as an extension of the community’s larger hospitals or clinics. This approach will prevent the enormous expense of constructing new infrastructure.
Repurposing for COVID-19 and beyond
Although COVID-19 overshadows the near future, we will have to make sure that installations created by COVID-19 can be repurposed for other conditions and are not ignored once cases subside.
The fact that we will have to learn to live with COVID-19 and such diseases will be recurring in the future must be understood by the government and private institutions. Strategies outside the current scope of being accurate during monsoons will need to be established in the management of such diseases. At the same time, to ensure that we do not develop those facilities that lie under or unused, it will be necessary to maintain a careful balance, resulting in the wasting of critical resources such as skilled staff, hospital instruments, and cash.
These various architectural approaches only show to a common adversary that there is no right solution for resolving a pandemic because the truth is different in every state, region, and culture. It is not possible to copy a medical technique that works in an urban slum-like Dharavi in Mumbai to other cities like Bangalore, Kerala, and Chennai, so the design of healthcare facilities has also adapted to local needs.