COVID-19’s Impact on Healthcare Design and Construction

In January 2020, the coronavirus invaded the US and by March, the virus effectively shut down the country as a whole. The pandemic-induced “new standard” has driven nations and their people around the world to reconsider and implement novel social and health protocols. The healthcare and construction industries were at the forefront, and had to be the most flexible in many cases to respond and lead in the new direction.

Designing for the New Normal

  • The planning of healthcare facilities in a post-COVID world may involve nuanced considerations about organisational and infrastructure design.

  • Given that the construction industry faces a possible reduction in skilled labour, modular lends itself to cross-training, something that can not happen on a conventional commercial job site.

  • An urgent problem is for hospitals to keep surgery cases running when coping with crowded emergency departments and intensive care unit beds elective or necessary but not life-threatening.

  • For example, a few months away from the increase in cases of coronavirus in New York, hospitals still do not see patients returning, and most procedures are still 50% to 70% of what they were

  • Healthcare systems are also exploring the construction of micro-hospitals on a smaller scale with urgent care and inpatient capacity.

  • Hospitals need to look hard at prioritising infrastructure upgrade programmes in the long term

Adjusting to Evolving Construction Guidelines

While understanding how healthcare design could potentially change forever is fascinating, project managers are currently grappling with construction challenges due to constantly changing requirements that differ from city to city.

Despite the many obstacles, healthcare system planners and construction contractors are working tirelessly to re-imagine designs for medical facilities for the future and at the same time minimising the ever-changing requirements for construction today.

  • At certain places, shift work was carried out to allow for social distancing.

  • One thing is for sure; big changes are coming, and the healthcare industry will be at the forefront.

  • As already reported, there is also a decline in available skilled labour in the healthcare construction industry.

  • Supply chain problems often occur at times with the abrupt closures of production plants in various parts of the U.S.

Richard Simone is Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Central Consultancy & Contracting, a full-service construction and general contracting firm specialising in health services. He has over 35 years of Construction industry experience. Key Consultancy & Contracting has worked in the United States in several national health care programmes. East Coast on diverse projects ranging from hybrid robotic operating suites to ground-up construction and planning facilities.
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