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In The Wake Of Covid, Hospitals Redesign For Flexibility


The pandemic and its effects on hospitals’ abilities to provide care have many in the industry looking to redesign their facilities to weather future pandemics or crisis events through flexible design. 

During the pandemic, images of overflow tents in hospital parking lots and patients in any available square foot of space were commonplace. Hospitals now hope they can build in flexibility that will avoid such adaptations the next time around, The New York Times reports. 

“The pandemic proved the need to have flexible space,” Doylestown Health CEO Jim Brexler told the Times. "This is the future of hospitals."

Floor plan changes to prepare for surge capacity, larger waiting rooms to allow for social distancing and outfitting more hospital rooms with ventilation systems that would allow infectious patients to occupy them are just a few of the changes being made to a number of hospitals around the country.

Hospitals are experiencing a period of incredible expansion and growth. There was about 45.1M SF of new hospital construction in progress in May 2022, up from 37.4M SF in Q2 2021 and 28.7M SF in Q2 2020, Bisnow previously reported. Hospitals are also keen on expanding, with 50.4M SF of hospital expansions underway in the same time period, although that is a drop from 53.9M in Q2 2020.  

But some experts caution that while these changes will undoubtedly help the hospitals that get them weather the next crisis, it will also have outsized impacts for the hospitals that do not have these updates and their patients, deepening an already large gap in healthcare services. 

“You have hospitals that are barely holding on in rural areas, and they can’t afford flexibility in architecture. So what does it look like to them?” Armstead Jones, a strategic real estate adviser with Real Estate Bees, told the Times.