Communities across the country desperately need additional housing to assess, treat and rehabilitate COVID-19 patients as a critical measure to move past the outbreak of this pandemic. But this is new territory for most counties and cities. How can it be done quickly and yet still provide security, sanitation and comfort to those who enter these facilities?
DLR Group is a national architecture and engineering firm currently working with King County in Washington state and builder Howard S. Wright, a Balfour Beatty Company, to provide rapid-response solutions to transform multiple sites throughout the county into facilities equipped to quarantine patients who, for whatever reason, are unable to self-quarantine, particularly those individuals lacking housing. These facilities will add 2,500 beds across 12 sites that range from converted motels and warehouses, to temporary structures erected in parking lots or sports fields, to coordinating areas within existing facilities to accommodate beds and medical areas. Each facility is conceived, studied, built and permitted typically within two weeks so patients can move in as quickly as possible.
The process is intense and requires the collaboration of many people on the front line. But it has opened up deep conversations with the county and other stakeholders about the impact of the COVID-19 on our communities, resulting in fast-paced thinking and delivery of the facilities. The bottom line is to provide the healthiest, human-focused development and sensitive care for all people in the community who are struggling to find safe places to recover through the pandemic.
Design teams and counties alike are uncovering unique solutions and lessons learned through this unprecedented need for rapid-response facilities. While the list is long, DLR Group offers this overview for counties to consider as they find sites and spaces for clinical assessment and housing.
Some of these insights include:
- Define county objectives which might include: Move people out of hospitals who are not critical but need a safe, monitored environment to fully recover; move people experiencing homelessness who may be infected or exposed to the virus off the streets and away from public exposure; provide better availability of testing/assessment to the community for equity and accessibility to healthcare
- Field Clinics can be erected and ready for intake using structured tents, motels, warehouses or any available space. However, a built space is always better than a tent both for security and convenience of utilities and other services.
- Develop flow diagrams for how patients and staff are going to move or process through facilities to better understand space program needs. This includes transportation needs with defined drop off and pick up areas as well as parking and emergency/fire accessibility.
- Consider food services delivery needs and understand meals must be 100 percent disposable, which also requires consideration for waste management.
- Triage space should be outside of the main structure, to avoid infecting any who are not currently sick and test negative for COVID-19.
Finally, remember none of these facilities will be perfect, but they will meet minimum requirements for clinical needs delivered in the fastest response time possible. These and dozens of other lessons learned are available by contacting DLR Group Principal, Lori Coppenrath at firstname.lastname@example.org.Sponsors DLR Group