- Massachusetts General Hospital’s $1 billion expansion in Boston is set to include design features that will allow the hospital to serve as a refuge for staff and patients for as long as four days following a natural or man-made disaster and other emergency events, according to Boston 25 News.
- Design for the addition is in progress, and architect Joan Saba, a partner at NBBJ, told Boston 25 that her firm is considering every worst-case scenario for the structure, using case studies based on healthcare facilities that functioned during and after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina and 2012’s Superstorm Sandy.
- Sally Mason Boemer, senior vice president of administration and finance at Mass General, said the hospital also is flood-proofing existing buildings, a process that includes relocating critical functions to upper floors and using protective coatings on windows and doors.
Mass General must still raise the money to pay for the new structure, which will be at least 12 stories and provide 450-plus beds. The building also will feature cancer and heart centers, operating and exam rooms and other patient services.
The Partners HealthCare network, which includes Mass General, has been working to institute resiliency measures across its more than 30 facilities, according to Engineering.com. Partners' Spaulding Rehabilitation Center in Boston was the city’s first waterfront building to be designed to combat the effects of climate change; it was built at 30 inches above the 500-year floodplain and has large granite berms to block floodwaters. It also features redundant HVAC systems, triple-paned glass, extra insulation, light-colored concrete to reflect sunlight and natural ventilation and lighting.
It’s important that hospitals continue functioning — even under the bleakest of circumstances — because of the nature of the services they provide, particularly if there is a chance of a high-injury rate in the aftermath of a man-made or natural disaster.
The 1994 Northridge earthquake in California did an estimated $3 billion in damage to hospitals, so the state enacted legislation that established seismic requirements for healthcare facilities and also requires certain hospitals to upgrade, some by 2020 and others by 2030, depending on their level of structural performance.
But the construction upgrade requirements, especially for smaller hospitals in rural areas of the state, have been financially burdensome for some facility owners. A merger with a larger system, according to The Bakersfield Californian, is the only way that some of these cash-strapped healthcare providers can afford to make the necessary renovations, as well as critical investments in new technology.