Today's epidemic serves to show how vulnerable we all are.
All our organisations have been "attacked", first and foremost our Health system which, despite the difficulties encountered (lack of specialist staff, intensive care beds, equipment, etc.) has succeeded in adjusting quickly (medicalised TGV trains, public-private collaboration, use of intensive care unit operating theatre recovery rooms, etc.) and taking action against the epidemic.
Once the crisis is over, it will be time for the Refoundation, and with the Healthcare system quite probably being first on the list. Today’s health crisis is a demonstration of the absolute necessity of investing more strongly and sustainably in the health sector and avoiding unjustifiable cuts wherever possible.
Of course, medical-hospital strategies and organisations will have to be profoundly reviewed and human resources strengthened, but when we talk about Refoundation, a term with an architectural resonance, we will also have to take a fresh look at real estate structures: reversibility or how to quickly transform conventional accommodation into intensive care units, set up differentiated circuits that are as "hermetically sealed" as possible, without hindering the daily activity of uninfected patients, allow the emergency installation of a modular hospital connected to emergency services, etc.
This requires mutability and resilience, both in the upstream stages of master plans and in future real estate projects. Proposals will have to stress-test medical and real estate strategies in the face of exceptional phenomena, in particular through risk analysis but also through a return on experience gained from the transformation of health structures to deal with COVID-19.
Some solutions have already been sketched out and others have yet to be invented. Whether they are simple or complex, they will require a shared thought process between all stakeholders, whether caregivers, strategists, administrators, managers, or financial or real estate functions.
These are all challenges that must be met in order to adapt hospital spaces to the new health issues, enabling both caregivers to carry out their actions in complete safety, and patients – which we could potentially be ourselves - to be cared for as effectively as possible.
Managing Director, Real Estate Strategy Department, BU Consulting
Hospital architect-programmer, BU Consulting