Medical care is changing at a rapid rate. More and more healthcare is being provided to outpatients and specialized care. The huge hospital with multiple wings is becoming obsolete as fewer and fewer patients seek inpatient care. Consequently, the growth and popularity of smaller satellite facilities is inevitable.
The New Focus of Healthcare has Influenced Design Changes
As the emphasis on healthcare moves from offering acute care in larger facilities to preventative care offered in a smaller more intimate setting that providing a more holistic environment, we move toward continuous health and wellbeing. Sustainability is another increasingly important factor in facility design. Utilizing the sun to provide light, avoiding the use of toxic materials in construction and saving water and energy are all concerns when creating a sustainable healthcare structure. These trends are reflected in the design of a facility’s patient rooms, nursing stations, public areas, testing areas, etc.
Green is the Future of Healthcare Facilities
For the most part the healthcare facility construction of hospitals, clinics, outpatient centers, dental offices, nursing homes and birthing centers are following the green building philosophy. Sustainability is of the utmost importance as is providing a non-toxic environment. From the top down, healthcare facilities are considering the best possible options for attaining sustainability. One option that has been utilized is the green roof which has a longer life span than conventional roofing. Roofs are a viable part of the surrounding environment using sustainable materials such as water absorbent Styrofoam insulation. Roofs that once lasted up to 20 years can now last 40 or more years.
Tomorrow’s Healthcare Facility Seeks Sustainability
Another aspect of sustainability is finding more efficient ways to provide heating and cooling. One such method is to utilize a high efficiency chilled water system to pump water throughout the facility to cool the work areas. And also give each area the ability to the control air flow. This cuts down on the intense temperature concerns that most healthcare facilities experience. The energy usage is reduced and so is lighting when the facility uses natural lighting whenever feasible. This is one more attempt at saving energy and using natural resources instead.
Healthcare Will Have a Smaller Carbon Footprint
Lowering energy costs and reducing the facilities potential carbon footprint are major goals in producing green healthcare facilities. Spaces inside the green building must also be concerned with non-toxicity, ergonomics and the overall effect of that environment on those that live in it while seeking medical care. Any painting company that’s used will be asked to use zero VOC paint in colors that have been tested to provide the best ambience for healing. Furnishings used in every room will have sustainable features, such as being constructed from recyclable materials or be made from bio-degradable material.
The healthcare facility of today is different from yesterday’s facility because the emphasis has changed from building large facilities with the capacity to house many patients to building care facilities that can offer more individualized care to smaller more intimate groups. Delivering preventative care has taken precedence over focusing on acute care. Acute care giving will always exist to serve the need, but preventative care is on the rise and at some point may be more common than acute care needs. The ultimate goal is to provide far more preventative care in a green healthcare facility that caters to preservation of the environment and the nurturing of the human spirit through holistic care.