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Architects urge hospitals: patients’ rooms should have windows

/ 12:30 AM November 21, 2015

If you ask architects, the phrase “a room with a view” becomes a more urgent concern when it comes to hospital confinement.

Architect and urban planner Felino “Jun” Palafox Jr. revealed to Inquirer Property that international best practices would require windows for all rooms used by humans in order for natural light and ventilation to come in.

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Palafox said: “Once, I was given a room without windows in a well-known hospital. I refused, and instead requested a room with windows. Rooms with no windows should be converted for storage, and not for patients. It’s a design challenge, but it should be incorporated in hospitals’ design criteria.”

Direct view of the outdoor

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Architect Edgardo Reformado of the Green Architecture Advocacy Philippines, who has introduced eco-friendly features of a hospital in Manila, enumerates the five most important requirements of a “patient-friendly” and healthy hospital.

1 Let the sunshine in. Patients’ rooms must receive sufficient natural light.

2 Hospitals must have landscaped outdoor gardens, ideally in every floor.

3 Rooms must have a direct view, if not access, to these gardens. And if possible, even the hallways and corridors must offer views of the garden or open spaces.

4 Hospitals must maintain properly working air conditioning units, complete with clean ducts, air filters and vents. They must be able to maintain clean indoor air quality.

5 Hospitals must use less-mercury LED lights, which contribute to patients’ and employees’ comfort.

Reformado noted: “Of course, hospital administration and management would complain that these requirements are expensive. Not necessarily, though. It depends on how hospitals are able to retrofit or incorporate these features. They may even generate good business for them.”

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Sunlight for speedy recovery

Architect Edilberto “Boy” Morcilla stressed that hospital rooms must always have natural lighting and ventilation. He said: “This is a basic architectural design requirement, universally taught and advocated. Sunlight can ease the pain caused primarily by depression for patients who are confined in a hospital room. The morning sun is better than the afternoon sun. Sunlight exudes hope and optimism to patients.”

Morcilla said: “Furthermore, there are some bacteria that cannot thrive when exposed to sunlight. Therefore, rooms with direct sunlight are healthier; better still if fresh air can circulate in the patient’s room from time to time, even when there’s air conditioning, to flush out airborne harmful microorganisms. Proper healthcare being offered by hospitals, but with poor design and facilities, are just a pretense.”

“Patients’ rooms, therefore, without direct sunlight and natural ventilation must not be allowed by the government,” he added.

The 10 goals

Healthcare Without Harm-Asia director Merci Ferrer, during the Global Green and Health Hospitals campaign in 2013, enumerated to Inquirer Property the campaign’s 10 goals for achieving an environment- and people-friendly hospital, among which had been included building design and construction as a foundation for a green and healthy hospital:

• leadership that prioritizes environmental health;

• replacing harmful chemicals with safer alternatives;

• waste reduction, treatment and safe disposal of healthcare waste;

• energy efficiency and renewable energy generation;

• water reduction and supply of potable water;

• improved transportation strategies for patients and staff; • food purchasing and availability of sustainably-grown and healthy food;

• safe management and disposal of pharmaceuticals;

• building design and construction that support green and healthy hospitals; and

• purchasing safer and more sustainable products and materials.

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TAGS: architects, Design, hospitals, property, room with a view
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