Patients’ health and safety is at the forefront of healthcare goals, but oftentimes risks for hospital-acquired infections are not addressed until construction on a facility has already started, or an infection has broken out. Infection control actually starts in the design of a healthcare facility, and requires long-term planning that takes place long before construction is started on a new or renovated building. In fact, design of the healthcare facility is the first factor considered in the AIA’s guidelines for Infection Control Risk Assessments.
So, what elements need to be considered when designing a healthcare facility?
Air-handling: What needs does the healthcare facility have for its surgical areas, isolation rooms, laboratories, hazardous materials, etc.?
Water systems: Does the design limit the development and spread of legionella and other waterborne pathogens? Should a specific treatment plan be put in place?
Isolation rooms: Consider the number, location and type of isolation rooms in the healthcare facility.
Finishes and surfaces: Are the materials easy to disinfect?
Air ventilation and filtration systems: Where these are located and how they can be used to reduce the spread of infectious bacteria?
While water and air systems are often the first factors considered in infection control, it is also important to consider what types of building materials should be incorporated into the design. Is is especially important to consider which types of materials can be the most easily cleaned because some bacteria can survive on dry surfaces for months. Designers and architects can also help identify sustainable and durable building materials that will last long into the future.