Problem: How might we help hospital staff prepare for the scenario of an outbreak of a highly contagious and deadly disease like Ebola?
Responsibilities: Research, prototype building
The recent Ebola outbreak was a sobering experience for the healthcare community - in the case of a highly contagious disease, will hospitals in the United States be prepared for such an outbreak? These kinds of situations, called mass biocontainment emergencies, require special spaces called biocontainment units for medical staff to operate that differs from a traditional ICU. One of these critical differences is an extra room, called the anteroom, that acts as an additional layer of protection between the unit and the rest of the hospital to prevent the spread of disease. However, only ten hospitals in the United States have such rooms, and each of those hospitals only have a couple of those special rooms.
This project was meant to explore ways we could help teams be more effective in this kind of scenario. After interviewing a number of nurses, designers, and architects, we found critical information to help our team in coming up with a solution. Originally, we pursued different ideas that involved how to improve communication between the patient room and the anteroom, but ended up coming up with a solution to help any hospital turn an ICU into a biocontainment room in less than an hour. Our portable anteroom, called PortAll, comes in a small, light kit that allows for easy assembly in nearly all ICUs. After studying numerous ICU floor plans, our design was built to be easily customizable to the space and allow for easily assembly with tools and supplies already found in hospitals.
For this project, I conducted research, aided in interviews with medical professionals, and led the design of the space.