BOSTON – July 20, 2021 – Margulies Perruzzi (MP), one of New England’s most innovative architectural and interior design firms, has taken an active role working with health care clients to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic and recently worked with Lahey Hospital & Medical Center (LHMC) in Burlington, Mass., to create a 3,100 SF COVID-19 testing lab.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals and providers across the Commonwealth worked in numerous capacities to respond to COVID-19, caring for thousands of patients, re-configuring care settings, and endlessly innovating to meet the rapidly changing demands of this pandemic. Throughout this time, hospitals needed to find new ways to meet the growing demands for COVID-19 testing and analysis and support the achievement of the Commonwealth’s goals to grow testing capacity in the state, which was critical to ensuring robust diagnostic testing and surveillance of the spread of the disease.
Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, a world-renowned tertiary medical center known for its innovative technology, pioneering medical treatment and leading-edge research, committed to more than doubling its existing COVID-19 testing capacity to meet the demand. The renovation of existing lab space created a new expanded COVID-19 testing lab with rapid throughput testing capabilities of up to 11,100 tests per day that would allow specimens to be resulted in 24 hours or less.
“To make a project like this happen requires an enormous amount of collaboration and alignment to ensure the entire team is working together to meet the project goals,” said Bob Humenn, AIA, director of healthcare strategy at Margulies Perruzzi. “The project team worked closely with LHMC to be sure the lab design would meet their current testing needs as well as future testing requirements.”
Margulies Perruzzi and Columbia Construction worked with LHMC to create a COVID-19 testing lab designed to accommodate new and larger equipment. The design/construction team was challenged to complete the COVID-19 testing lab as quickly as possible to meet the immediate needs for COVID-19 testing during the pandemic. Multiple sites on- and off-campus were explored, and it was determined that creating the COVID-19 testing lab within the main campus laboratory would have the greatest capital and operational cost efficiency. This approach could also be built in the shortest time because the mechanical infrastructure was already in place. The challenge with this option was restrictions on planning based on available space in the existing lab. Creating sufficient contiguous space needed for the Thermofisher testing equipment involved multiple moves of existing lab services and required renovation within an existing functioning laboratory. There were several strategies to accelerate the process, including team working sessions for material approvals and finishes flexibility to work with materials more readily available. Utilizing quick ship options for materials with unavoidably long lead times and using movable lab furniture to provide more flexibility for delivery, assembling and installation.
“LHMC moved quickly during the pandemic to meet the urgent demand for testing services. It was important that the lab could process a lot of tests quickly, but the space needed to be efficient and functional also. The design and construction teams helped us achieve our goals by taking a more proactive role to address issues immediately as they arose to ensure the new lab could open quickly for the benefit of our patients, colleagues and physicians,” said Michael Slejzer, director of planning, design and construction at LHMC.
Project team members include:
Architect/Laboratory Planning: Margulies Perruzzi
Construction Manager: Columbia Construction
Owner’s Project Manager: Lehrer Cummings
About Margulies Perruzzi
As one of New England’s top architectural and interior design firms, Margulies Perruzzi (MP) designs Workplace, Health, Science, and Real Estate projects that inspire and nurture human endeavor. More information may be found at https://mparchitectsboston.com.
Bob Humenn, Director of Healthcare Strategy at Margulies Perruzzi, has spent more time at hospitals over the past few weeks than he’s spent at home. He is helping them increase the number of beds, create “pop-up” clinics, and set up testing sites. According to Bob, “it is humbling to see the dedication of healthcare workers putting their health and lives at risk every day. While you’re there, it makes you wish that you could do more.”
According to Bob, the Department of Public Health (DPH) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have been very accommodating, issuing blanket waivers to allow hospitals to create testing sites and pop-up clinics in non-clinical areas and to add beds in alternative locations such as recovery areas instead of private rooms. Bob has worked with Milford Regional Medical Center for twenty years and is one of the hospitals that Bob has assisted in addressing COVID-19 through the following strategic initiatives.
Emergency Department Patients To handle an influx in emergency department patients with COVID-19 symptoms, Margulies Perruzzi worked with Hospital staff to create an Alternate Treatment Area (ATA) in the parking area directly below the Emergency Department (ED). Walk-in ED patients will be triaged at the entry vestibule for Covid-19 symptoms and if appropriate, they will be sent down to the ATA for testing and treatment. The ATA has twenty bays for treatment and space for portable x-ray. The goal is rapid assessment, testing, and discharge within an hour of arrival. Margulies Perruzzi provided guidance on patient flow, regulatory guidelines and design and the ATA was constructed by Consigli Construction using a modular wall system. Cubicle curtains are free-standing and created from electrical conduit for the frame and curtain.
Inpatient Beds Guided by the directives issued by The Department of Public Health and CMS, Margulies Perruzzi worked with Milford Regional to develop a strategic plan for the anticipated surge of hospital patients. COVID-19 patients will be grouped in existing medical/surgical, progressive care and intensive care nursing units. If needed, non-COVID-19 ICU patients will be cared for in the PACU, using two bays to provide needed clearance between patients, while other non-COVID-19 patients will be cared for in alternate areas such as Infusion and Endoscopy.
Patients Requiring Post-Acute Rehabilitation There may be patients that are recovering from COVID-19 and would normally be discharged to a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF). If the SNF is not able to admit a COVID-19 patient, MRMC is prepared to rehabilitate these patients. The Hospitalists, Nursing and Rehabilitation Services collaborated to develop a plan to manage patients requiring physical, occupational and speech therapies in order to maximize the patient’s abilities to move from hospital to home. Margulies Perruzzi worked with MRMC staff to develop options for temporary transitional care units for these patients. The main goal will be ensuring the patients continue to regain their strength in order to return to their baseline before discharge home.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the design of health care facilities. The dynamic nature of the pandemic has required our teams to be flexible and highly creative in addressing the needs of our clients in support of those healthcare providers on the front lines. As we ride the flattened curve of infection our focus is shifting to the safe re-activation of the healthcare system to begin seeing non-emergency cases, primary care visits and elective procedures to a broad range of healthcare facilities that until recently have been prepared for COVID-19 patient over flow. Margulies Perruzzi is working to develop strategies utilizing infection control measures and design flexibility to address the complexities of reactivating the hospital in the coming weeks and to better position our community for future pandemics .
More information and articles published from the MP Healthcare studio posted regularly.
Additionally, The AIA COVID-19 Task Force (including MP’s John Fowler) has published tools to assess and catalog the adaptive reuse of buildings as Alternative Care Sites. We are extremely grateful for all of the hard work and sacrifice healthcare professionals are putting in on the front lines of this pandemic and are looking for more ways to support them whenever we can.
MP recently published a report with survey results, “COVID-19 AND THE FUTURE OF THE WORKPLACE WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?” Download by clicking here.
The other night I had the opportunity to share with the architecture community some tools and recommendations on how to work remotely through a webinar hosted by the Boston Society of Architects (BSA). We were asked to participate as we’ve been incorporating remote working into our workflow for a number of years already so were fairly well prepared to transition our entire staff to remote working when the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated it.
We had initially set up a virtual private network (VPN) on our firewall to create a secure connection for people that needed flexibility to work from home when they had family obligations to attend to during the business day. When the winter of 2015 delivered back-to-back snowstorms every weekend, we increased access and encouraged more staff to connect and have productive days despite the snow-covered streets.
To ensure the security of our client’s project data, everything is stored on our network. When connecting in, the same security and virus protection software we use in the office is installed on the users’ home computer. Over the past couple weeks, we have had our staff test their home connections to ensure that if the time came to work remotely full-time, we would all be prepared. We scheduled a stress test on the system to track how much bandwidth was used to better understand any limits that could affect our productivity.
Along with the hardware testing, we started encouraging all staff to practice communicating internally with Skype for Business, even if the person was within talking distance. We selected Skype because we have about a dozen of our millennial staff who have been using it and they could help share their knowledge with others to facilitate the implementation and it had already been installed with our recent Office 365 upgrades.
Change is tough. Making major changes in how we work and the technology we use are especially tough when your staff encompasses several generations. We wanted to be cautious about making too many new moves when it is already a stressful time. Choosing platforms where staff could get help from others internally was intentional. While we have external IT support, now more than ever, it’s important to encourage supporting each other.
For the generation of staff (and clients) that prefer face-to-face connections, we increased our licenses so that video conferencing is available to anyone who wants to use it. Our internal message board has become an active place to share information on both what is working well and what has had some challenges. Where we have found gaps that needed a new format for remote working, we have started using new platforms. The underlying theme here is to be open to provide alternate solutions that support how people prefer to work and having open communication.
At the close of the webinar we were asked to share our key takeaways. We had covered lots of technical information, costs and comparisons of software and hardware, work methods, communication tools, but my takeaway was much simpler than all of that. Everyone at MP genuinely loves what they do, and we enjoy doing the work we do WITH each other. We need to reinforce these basic principles while we are working away from one another. We need to remind ourselves of the importance of this human connection. It is not just about being connected to share our work and collaborate with one another, but it is equally important to continue to share our lives with one another.
Architecture Firms and Remote Work’ was a virtual program hosted by the Boston Society of Architects on March 17. The free program welcomed over 375 members of the architectural community from across the country. The recording of this program is available for viewing at www.architects.org