Elgabaly Architects celebrates 17 years of success and brilliance.
By Tamer Elgabaly
Safety in healthcare settings has always been a top priority, whether to protect against infection, occupational injury, or attacks against staff. Unfortunately, it is this last item—violence against healthcare workers—that requires renewed emphasis.
That is because violence against healthcare employees has markedly increased since the onset of the pandemic. The American Hospital Association (AHA) reports that healthcare workers suffer more workplace injuries because of violence than any other profession. The industry group also says that 44% of nurses report an increase in physical violence since the pandemic and 68% report an increase in verbal abuse.
While safety and security are of utmost importance, healthcare environments must also create a welcoming and restorative environment for patients and caregivers. Here, we discuss design solutions that balance both requirements.
The ground floor is the first bastion of safety, with security that can range from more obvious (metal detectors) to less so (guards who serve as “ambassadors”). Because an overly aggressive security presence can be off-putting to patients and visitors, aim instead for measures that are “invisible.”
For example, upon entry, a welcoming yet secure check-in area provides an additional layer of safety. At Loma Linda University Medical Center in California, a unique entry experience featuring a series of dramatic outdoor archways leads to a shallow lobby and reception, creating a single controlled access point while creating a warm, beautiful first impression. Taking this idea one step further, a design that requires all visitors to flow through the ground floor with a security presence without allowing direct access from parking levels to patient care floors, or reducing the number of entry and egress points, also helps limit the flow of people into the building—though this is more difficult to execute in larger hospitals or on a sprawling campus.