26 September 2023

Pandemic planning at RAH has COVID covered

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Proactive pandemic planning in the design of the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) has paid dividends according to a recent research review into the RAH’s capabilities throughout the COVID-19 response.

Announcing the in-depth Review entitled Hospital design features that optimise pandemic response, the Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN) said it detailed the many features built into the RAH long before its first COVID-19 patient arrived on 1 February 2020.

The CALHN said disaster readiness was a key consideration when the design of the hospital began, after plans to rebuild the Hospital were announced in 2007.

“This capability was key to allow the RAH to continue to provide a world-class standard of care despite the complexities of the pandemic,” the CALHN said.

“A goal of the new RAH was to provide a resilient facility that could respond to any type of disaster event while continuing to provide core clinical services.”

The CALHN said infrastructure design features were incorporated to cover natural disasters and included an ‘Island mode’ so the hospital could remain fully functional without any external support for utilities.

Previous infectious disease outbreaks of SARS and H1N1 informed the need to include pandemic design features, known as ‘pandemic mode,’ which ensure areas can be contained and segregated,” it said.

“This included installing negative pressure rooms, which prevent air escaping from the room, and full quarantine rooms in the emergency department, the intensive care unit and recovery bays.”

The CALHN said inpatient rooms were also supplied with 100 per cent fresh air from outside, which had been an important infection control measure.

It said pandemic mode, built-in personal protective equipment (PPE) stations, single rooms and a seven-step scalability plan, which allowed staff to provide isolated cubicles in the emergency department and add further cubicles as required, made the RAH the ideal COVID-receiving hospital for the State.

The five-page Review, published in Australian Health Review, can be accessed at this PS News link.

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