THREE ESSENTIAL FACTORS IN UPGRADING WORKING HOSPITALS
How do you upgrade the facilities of a hospital while still running the hospital well - and meeting staff and patient needs?
Elisa Knowlman, of Peddle Thorp, recently returned from the Australian Healthcare Week conference where she co-presented together with Steven Mairs from WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff as part of the ‘Retrofitting Healthcare Facilities’ focus day.
They spoke about the methodology used on various projects including recent work done on the refurbishment of the Bowen Regional Hospital for Queensland Health (a point cloud image of the hospital is pictured above).
Elisa said Peddle Thorp uses technology to ensure the success of the methodology as well as foster information exchange and collaboration.
“Tools that ensure accuracy and that everyone is on the same page means plans can be implemented within tight timeframes,” she said.
“We use technology such as building information modelling and point cloud survey to offer precision - and ultimately to ensure clients in remote locations like Bowen receive the same high quality service.”
Reflecting on the presentation’s theme, Elisa has outlined three important factors that influence the success of retrofitting projects:
1. Communication: “When you’re working in a live environment, the crux of the work is communication,” Elisa says. “You need to make sure patients, visitors, staff and the project team know what has to happen, how it will be carried out and what steps are being taken to minimise problems.”
2. Timing: Planning should include a clear understanding of when it makes sense to complete work. “The aim is to avoid times when there are increased demands on hospital systems. For instance, in Bowen there is a greater load on air-conditioning in summer and at other times of the year the potential case mix changes with a seasonal influx of tourists particularly the grey nomads.”
3. Stages: “Understanding timing is one thing. Inevitably some services will be stopped for a time and re-established. But you can’t just shut down a hospital for a week or even a day without consequences – you need to do it in staggered stages to reduce the impact.” She said staging was especially important given the scarcity of free space in modern buildings. “Often people and services need to stay in position because there’s no room to move – that also means there’s no room for loose-fit planning, bespoke tailoring of space is required.”