As hospitals in the United States are starting to hit capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Institute of Architects has released a new design guide from their COVID-19 Task Force.

The “Preparedness Assessment Tool” is intended to assist non-healthcare design professionals with identifying alternate sites suitable for patient care.

The task force developed the tool using established healthcare design best practices and standards in combination with federal documents issued during the crisis.

The design guide provides a checklist highlighting important areas to consider when evaluating buildings, such as convention centers, sports arenas, community centers, hotels, dormitories and other spaces to be used for temporary healthcare operations during a pandemic.

The tool is intended to help individuals who are not healthcare design experts with a rapid evaluation of buildings compatible for supporting patient care operations; providing for the needs and safety of healthcare staff and patients; and mitigating the spread of disease.

“This tool is geared toward flexible and rapid decision making during a public health pandemic,” said task force chair Dr. Molly Scanlon, FAIA, FACHA, who is an environmental health scientist at Phigenics.

“Our goal was to synthesize decades of healthcare knowledge and experience into a checklist reflecting the key essential elements of healthcare operations to reduce risk and increase safety at an alternative care site.”

A comprehensive briefing of the task force’s initiatives is available on AIA’s website.

As the AIA explains, last Friday, the task force launched an online resource to facilitate sharing of built environment solutions when responding to COVID-19 surge capacity.

As part of the effort, architects, designers, engineers and facility managers are asked to provide project information and images of COVID-19 alternate care sites into an online database.

The task force developed the tool to catalog current public health and healthcare facility response and to create a research database for future pandemics. Visit AIA’s website for more COVID-19 resources for members.