State of Emergency: Designing Healthcare Buildings to Prepare for the Worst
As Superstorm Sandy pummels the East Coast, hospitals and other healthcare facilities are put to the ultimate test of disaster readiness. NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan had to evacuate all 215 of its patients after its backup power system failed on Monday night. Backup power also failed at Coney Island Hospital in southern Brooklyn—fortunately, critical patients had already been evacuated in advance of the storm, according to The New York Times.
Because there’s no telling what Mother Nature or other forces might dish out—or when—disaster preparedness is non-negotiable for architects, designers, and engineers who work on healthcare facilities. As we wait for Sandy to subside (and keep the East Coast in our thoughts and prayers), it’s worth a look into the recent past for lessons and strategies on being prepared. What follows are some articles and blogs from HEALTHCARE DESIGN editors and contributors relating to disaster and emergency planning. There are plenty more on the site: Use our search function to look up “disaster,” “hurricane,” or “earthquake” for other perspectives.
- “Investing in Hospital Infrastructure Systems Can Save Money and Lives” is a prescient blog from BSA LifeStructures’ John Sauer, posted just this month.
- “Shake Test” reports on the University of California at San Diego’s tests to measure the survivability of a fully equipped five-story "hospital" under the force of some of the world's most intense recorded earthquakes.
- “ASHE PDC: Disaster Readiness” is a report from a session on restoring the Joplin/Mercy Health Care Campus after the Joplin tornado, presented during the ASHE PDC Summit in Phoenix in May 2012.
- “Expect the Unexpected” covers an interview with George Mann, AIA, professor at the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University, on the potential responses to unforeseen disasters, in the wake of the 2012 earthquakes in Haiti and Chile.
- “Encapsulation: Hurricane-proofing the Hospital From the Outside In” discusses how one Florida hospital took an interesting approach after hurricane damage in the mid-2000s.
- “Designing for Multiple Disasters” takes an in-depth look at the design and architecture of Ashley River Tower in South Carolina, a 641,000-square-foot hospital that opened in February 2008 and is designed to withstand hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes.