How COVID-19 changed the speed and design of healthcare capital projects

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The COVID-19 pandemic forced many hospitals, health systems and developers to make quick adjustments to meet new needs and trends, Building Design+Construction reported Dec. 15.

Three ways the pandemic influenced hospital construction:

1. Construction projects to pre-pandemic levels

In 2020, most healthcare projects were for "temporary measures," Mark Chrisman, healthcare practice director for Henderson Engineers and Henderson Building Solutions, told the publication. But since early 2021, the demand for these projects is close to where they were before the pandemic, he said. A lot of projects during the pandemic were for immediate healthcare needs, and there's been a high demand for outpatient care.

Hospitals are also having to take into account virtual care when considering the sizes of projects. A lot of projects have been focused on improving and renovating current facilities.

2. More requests for universal and private rooms

Many hospitals want larger private rooms and universal rooms, which would help a variety of patient needs, according to the report. Some hospitals also want permanent isolation rooms for future infectious disease outbreaks.

Other major trends have been an increase in high-end technology for patient and procedural spaces, combined heat and power turbines, combined pre- and post-recovery bays, and more telehealth and behavioral health. Additionally, there has been more demand for emergency department growth.

3. More interest in sustainability

Healthcare systems are interested in improving their reputation when it comes to sustainability and the environment, according to the report. For example, many clients want to reduce carbon emissions from the material supply chain both before and after a facility opens. A 2020 Health Affairs study showed 8 percent of carbon dioxide emissions are from the healthcare industry.

Resilience is another topic of importance for construction projects as hospitals deal with natural disasters, like facilities in Louisiana with Hurricane Ida.


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