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BEX LMS: Healthcare & Construction During COVID-19

Credit: BEX

By Rebekah Morris for AZBEX 

Nearly 80 individuals logged onto the first-ever virtual delivery of the BEX Leading Market SeriesHealthcare was always meant to be the topic for the April 2nd event; however, in the last few weeks the questions drastically changed, and the relevance of the topic took on new meaning. Panelists included: Mark Barkenbushsenior project executive for Banner Health, Chad Halmrastcontract executive for Southland Industries, and AJ Thomas, Healthcare Sector leader for Corgan. The discussion was moderated by BEX President and Founder, Rebekah Morris 

Preparing for COVID-19 

Barkenbush explained that Arizona is several weeks behind other hot spots such as New York and California, and his team is able to learn from Banner facilities in Colorado which are also a couple weeks ahead of Arizona in experiencing a surge of COVID-19 patients. He described indepth a four-phased approach to increasing capacity that included steps such as activating unused, licensed beds, doubling up room capacity from single-occupancy to double-occupancy and converting larger open spaces like conference rooms into spaces that can handle patients that require care at a lower level of acuity.  

Halmrast and Thomas stated that their clients across the country also have similar paths to increasing capacity – almost all increases in capacity are coming from within the existing walls. Thomas described three levels of solutions: increasing operational capacity, build-out of existing spaces and converting non-traditional spaces into ones that are able to function as healthcare spaces.   

Interestingly, Barkenbush explained that Governor Doug Ducey’s Executive Order last week that dictated an increase in hospital bed capacity did not change anything they were already working on. He stated that based on their projections and plans, they can meet the Order using the tactics described above without needing to expand outside of their walls. He did describe the use of tents and pop-up facilities to increase space for waiting areas, whether a patient was waiting to be admitted or waiting for transportation after their hospital stay.  

Barkenbush also described the current state of occupancy as the calm before the storm.” By stopping elective surgeries in preparation for a COVID-19 surge, the hospitals are running well below capacity.  

Thomas described a new Yavapai Regional Medical Center CVICU project that was approved at light-speed by the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services. He stated that his application was submitted on Friday and it was approved the very next Wednesday, compared to a standard 60-day turnaround.  

Agility and Prevention by Design 

When looking forward, Thomas and Halmrast indicated this health epidemic will have far-reaching impacts on the design of future healthcare spaces. Agility in Design is a main corporate principle of Corgan’s, and Thomas described how he thinks healthcare systems will require agility to be built into the design even more than it is today. His experience in converting non-traditional spaces into those that will work for healthcare is already being put to use in Austin. Halmrast also described, Prevention by Design, where future facilities would be more open to bearing the cost of an air supply that is 100 percent fresh air versus any amount of recirculating air.  

Registered Attendees Get More 

All registered attendees of our virtual Leading Market Series will receive a transcript style written document of the discussions, along with a PDF of the slide decks and the ability to chat with other attendees. The discussions also cover topics not covered in our magazine write-ups and come with resources made available by panelists after the fact 

Friday, April 4, 2020, 1:25pm – This article has been edited to correct a factual inaccuracy in the project originally referenced as Cottonwood. This has been corrected to the corrected Yavapai Regional Medical Center CVICU project. 

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