HEALTHCARE FACILITY IS ONE OF THE BUILDINGS SEEING THE BIGGEST CHANGES IN TIMES OF PANDEMIC
The pandemic overwhelmed every industry sector, but healthcare field in great amount. According to IBISWorld report, Australia had less than 20% of public hospitals equipped with a specialized Intensive Care Unit (ICU), required for caring for the most critically ill patients. NHS England confirmed that up to 20% of affected patients in several hospitals caught it at the hospitals while they were being treated for other diseases.
This led a number of people to become more aware of not only airborne respiratory illness but also the role of hospital. The pandemic outbreak posed a significant challenge for healthcare facilities, and the post-life is not going to be the same as how it had been.
What will healthcare facilities be like after the pandemic and how can hospitals prepare for the new normal? Changes are taking place in spatial and management aspects.
Changes made in spatial aspects
Increasing adoption of telehealth will accelerate change in space use. According to the McKinsey’s survey, US consumer adoption of telehealth skyrocketed from 11% in 2019 to 46% during the pandemic. Updox, a virtual care communication company, found that out of 2,000 U.S. adults 51% would continue using telehealth services even after the pandemic.
Another spatial change to be made is in line with the expansion of a negative pressure room. Building negative pressure rooms is one way of healthcare facilities transforming themselves into a pandemic-ready area. A negative pressure room can keep the inside-air pressure lower than the surrounding environment to isolate virus and reduce the risk of infection.
Hospital General de Latacunga in Ecuador, for example, has a negative pressure room equipped with LG Electronics’ solutions which allow effective zone pressure control. Multi V, LG’s Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) system is connected with Air Handling Unit (AHU), which is fitted with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter that removes 99.97% of all airborne particles down to 0.3?m in size with MERV 17, conforming to global standards. This combination re-conditions and circulates air, maintaining the most stringently hygienic environment.
Changes made in management aspects
In the meantime, transformation in management aspect needs to be made. The indoor air quality which has always been top priorities for healthcare facilities is even more emphasized than ever before in light of pandemic. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) said that changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposure to the virus.
That is why hospital air conditioning plays a more pivotal role than just promoting comfort. The effective HVAC solution not only provides comfortable temperature and humidity but also collects pollutants and draw air through the filtering element. LG’s Multi V indoor units is a good example. It’s equipped with 4-step air purification filter which removes up to 99.9% PM 1.0 ultrafine dust ensuring hygienic indoor air quality.
Improving cost-efficiency is another challenge healthcare facilities have faced in terms of managing the building as they are going through unprecedented financial fallout caused by the pandemic. The American Hospital Association estimated a financial impact caused within a four-month period from March to June this year to be $202.6 billion loss.
To cut down operation cost, maximizing energy efficiency is key to healthcare facilities because unlike other commercial buildings, they operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, their energy use intensity is 2.5 times greater than commercial office buildings.
LG Electronics is working on offering the world’s best class energy efficiency through innovative technology. For example, LG Multi V 5, which is its latest VRF system, has Ultimate Inverter Compressor with increased cooling efficiency by 3% and heating efficiency by 10% compared to the conventional model. Its smart feature of sensing the presence of person to turn on and off automatically also contributes to optimum energy use.