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Issue 4.2

Responding to COVID-19: Healthcare Surge Capacity Design for High-Consequence Infectious Disease

Surge events are not new to healthcare organizations. Natural disasters, including floods, hurricanes, and pandemics, or human-made scenarios such as mass shootings, all pose challenges to public health. While surge events may not be new, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed an unprecedented challenge for the U.S. healthcare system. As of June 10, the U.S. has more than 2 million confirmed cases, and more than 110,000 reported deaths (Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center 2020). Current experience with COVID-19 urges us to rethink the way we design our healthcare facilities to better respond to High-Consequence Infectious Disease (HCID) surge events. This article describes various design approaches for responding to surge events, shares our observation of the current COVID-19 experience from a healthcare designer’s perspective, and discusses healthcare design and planning strategies for future HCID surge events. These observations have been assembled at a time when healthcare institutions and designers have just started to reflect following the initial surge; more rigorous research is needed.

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