With India introducing world’s largest Healthcare welfare program, Hospital safety should be one of the foremost objectives of the designers and those who are in charge of its operation. Due to utter negligence and sometimes due to lack of awareness our hospitals have become accident prone zones. There is an urgent need to activate disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness and response activities in hospitals. Remember, hospitals are the places where people go to save the life and they should not turn out to be death traps due to poor design and lack of preparedness. So, the objective should be to ensure that hospitals are not just better prepared but fully functional immediately after disasters and are able to respond without any delay to the medical requirements of the affected community.
Calamities like Gujarat earthquake of 2001, the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 and the Kashmir Earthquake of 2005 have shown that disasters affect not only the population but also health facilities. We have seen hospitals becoming victims of the natural clamities reducing them to heap of debris. Thus, they often become unavailable when their services are required the most.
One of the most important reasons for underlying vulnerabilities that cause hospitals to get affected by disasters and accidents is the inadequate or non- compliance of structural elements of hospitals to building codes and other safety norms. Further, absence of an operational Hospital Disaster Management Plan and lack of planning and preparedness to respond to disasters only help in aggravating the situation.
While economic and health impact of hospitals affected by disasters are obvious, there is also not so obvious social impact in the form of a loss of confidence/morale in the affected community which can affect the long-term recovery and sense of well-being of the community.
Therefore, hospitals need to be prepared for disasters by increasing their resilience and reducing their vulnerability. This can be done by strengthening both structural and operational aspects of the hospital, such that they achieve a reasonable degree of safety. In this effort, architecture fraternity too has a major role to play.
With this, we are concluding this feature on “Healthcare Special” where we have tried to cover various issues relating to Healthcare architecture. We take this opportunity to thank all our contributors, readers and sponsors without whose support this special feature wouldn’t have been successful. We conclude this special feature by promising more such features in future.