LOOK: Architects design a layout for a COVID-19 Central Referral Complex

April 3, 2020



Gabrielle De La Cruz

With speculations on the extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine due to the upward slope of COVID-19 spread in the Philippines, hospitals and healthcare facilities are reaching out to one another for faster and efficient procedures. Public spaces such as government buildings and stadiums are now being converted as temporary quarantine facilities. As of 4:00 PM today, April 3, 2020, the Department of Health reported 3,018 confirmed cases with 136 deaths and 52 recoveries. 

Assuming the worst-case scenario, hospital architecture firm John Ryan Santos + Partners crafted a plan to make use of Veterans Memorial Medical Center’s 55 hectares of land. The design includes their proposed RBHI units that will be constructed within the site, including the golf course. JRS+Partners says that this site is the most viable for a number of reasons: it is highly accessible from multiple points; it is government-owned; it has existing utilities and road networks; it’s in proximity to certain government hospitals; and its entire perimeter is easily defensible and can be surrounded by military security. 

RBHI Complex Model

When John Ryan Santos + Partners created the package design for Rapid-Build Hospital Isolation (RBHI) units, they primarily geared the model towards the development of a COVID-19 referral complex. Studying the site of Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC), the healthcare architecture specialists say that they can build a minimum of 1,800 isolation units. The primary shell material of RBHI units is light gauge steel framing, with fiber cement boards as their wall covers. These materials are readily available and easy to transport. “Each RBHI unit can be built in 10-14 days. If simultaneously executed by multiple contractors, all the 1800 isolation units can theoretically be made operational in 2-4 weeks,” says JRS+Partners. 

COVID-19 referral complex RBHI units

READ MORE about the rapid-build isolation units here

The complex model will be organized into 20 RBHI clusters. Each RBHI cluster will comprise of 90 isolation units, making a total of 1,800. John Ryan Santos + Partners shares that this set up allows for a stable confinement and treatment of patients within a robust infrastructure.“The proposed location of the RBHI units are on the available lots surrounding the main hospital inside the complex. These lots are a good distance from the main hospital building so operations will not be interrupted.” Within the site, the architects and designers also allocated spaces for two command centers and four logistics yards. 

COVID-19 referral complex

Central Referral Complex

Government sectors are currently handling the situation by repurposing government buildings and other public spaces into quarantine facilities. However, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) says that confirmed cases will still be brought to the hospitals. In the event that the number of COVID-19 patients continues to rise, what will be needed are more isolation and treatment facilities, not quarantine facilities. This is where the idea of a COVID-19 central referral complex becomes necessary. Like their Sagip Kanlungan project, the VMMC COVID-19 Central Referral Complex under the Sagip Pilipinas initiative introduces the idea of a centralized location, which allows for better establishment of protocols and dialogue between the public and private sectors. Moreover, units of the entire complex may be used as regular nursing stations or isolation units after the COVID-19 outbreak. 

4 phases - COVID-19 referral complex

READ MORE: John Ryan Santos + Partners wins the World Architecture Festival’s nod for their compact hospital design

Located at the center of the site, the Veterans Memorial Medical center will serve as the base and command center for the medical operations of the COVID-19 complex. It will “provide the necessary diagnostics, ancillary and other support facilities.” The number of beds that the complex can produce will almost cover the collective capacity of the conversion of PICC, World Trade Center, and the Rizal Memorial Stadium, which is at 1,950. Apart from its bed capacity, the architects and designers laid out the complex to act as the operational core for the healthcare workers, supplies, and storage. The Central Referral Center may also act as a point of reference for deliveries of materials, equipment, medicine, and manpower.

John Ryan Santos +Partners presented this initiative to provide yet another option in the stable of rapid healthcare solutions architecture can offer. They have identified the necessary implications in the hopes of being given an opportunity to contribute to the efforts of flattening the curve. “Having the VMMC COVID-19 Central Referral Complex will be able to provide the necessary accommodation. No patient should be denied proper medical treatment.”

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