6.5. Medical-architectural design

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6 5 diseno medico arquiHospital design considerations include specifications to improve their performance during and in the immediate aftermath of seismic, flooding, and high-wind events.

The most common medical-architectural schemes used in the design of hospitals do not cover functional issues that arise in disasters, such as an increase in the number of hospitalized patients, the special care required by patients dependent on life support systems, and the setting up or restriction of spaces for handling the emergency or to conserve resources.

In determining the physical spaces required to provide health care, and for equipment and furniture, architectural experts must ensure that the design takes into account a variety of factors:

  • The physical and functional relationship of the hospital with the surrounding community (location, access, environment, referral and counter-referral system, network of services, etc.).
  • Intra-hospital relationships and linkages with the rest of the establishment, with priority attention to those elements connected with life support systems and emergency care.
  • The physical resourceson which a hospital depends (lifeline services and supplies), from both external and internal sources, including:
    • Amount of space and equipment required for essential activities.
    • The activities and movements of both internal and external users of the facility.
    • The intrinsic vulnerability of certain hospital services, such as treatment and diagnostic equipment (which, in addition to being costly equipment, often involves hazardous materials) and logistical and technical support areas (kitchen, laundry, sterilization, maintenance, etc.). These are essential for the hospital’s operation, but may also contain deposits of fuel, hazardous substances, or equipment that could cause internal disasters in the case of collapse or failure.
    • Functional flexibility, in that internal and external physical spaces must be able to be quickly and effectively converted into areas for providing health care in emergencies and disasters.

Depending on the target level of protection designated for a new health facility, the medical-architectural design should ensure that all basic services and other elements that contribute to a facility’s operations can function autonomously for at least 72 hours during emergencies.

Go to: Existing health facilities