How Hospitals Combat Disaster

>> Oct 16, 2018


When terrible disasters affect populous urban areas, injuries and unsafe home conditions leave most people with only one place to turn: their local hospital. Hospitals already provide an incredible community service, providing professional healthcare to their communities and supporting a higher quality of life. When disaster strikes, be it a power outage, flood, fire, or natural disaster like a hurricane, hospitals act as safe havens for individuals who cannot escape and cannot go back to their place of residence. In at-risk locations like Fort Lauderdale, which has an annual hurricane season and was affected by both hurricane Katrina and hurricane Wilma, the construction of a new hospital requires a set of special codes and careful attention so as to make sure that, in troubling times, the building and its staff may offer relief and refuge.
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Specific Facilities to Combat Disaster

In Fort Lauderdale, which covers most of Broward County and has over six million residents, the resident and tourist population must deal with regular tropical storms, which can cause power outages and potentially turn into hurricanes. The city is a high-risk area, and in times of disaster and related injury, residents and tourists alike may look to the nearest hospital for support. In order to cope with this kind of environment, hospitals in Fort Lauderdale must follow specific codes that call for unique functions and capacities that one would not generally consider necessary for a hospital to have. Facilities like holding areas for mass amounts of people and a command room to coordinate relief are a must. They need to be able to store extra food, trauma supplies and communication equipment. All of these things need to be kept somewhere accessible and safe from the effects of disasters. In order to achieve this, hospitals must be constructed as solidly inside and out, and they must have easily understandable and navigable floor plans.

How Hospital Design Combats Disaster

Additionally, hospitals have to be able to withstand the disaster itself so that individuals seeking refuge are not at risk while inside. When constructing a hospital, the backup generator location, flood resistance, and facility window glazing must all be considered as part of a holistic approach to increasing the building resilience against disaster. In Fort Lauderdale, where flooding may affect residence, second floor generators capable of running for multiple days are very useful basic measures. More resilient roofing that has been subjected to pull tests to confirm its strength are also necessary, especially when faced with high winds. While retrofitting older hospitals certainly makes them more resilient, constructing new hospitals that incorporate these features in their design gives the best result, and in Fort Lauderdale, new hospitals with such capacities will be highly valuable to their communities.

At the end of the day, hospitals are there to provide their communities with invaluable healthcare service. For those living in areas that face disasters, especially seasonally like in Fort Lauderdale, it should be comforting to know that their hospitals are just as capable of providing sufficient relief during hard times so that everyone who needs it will be given refuge and safety.

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