The California-based Center for Health Design recently awarded the prestigious Joseph G. Sprague New Investigator Award to University of Kansas School of Architecture doctoral student Marzia Chowdhury for her work surrounding emergency room improvements in post-COVID healthcare design.
Chowdhury’s dissertation study, “Emergency Department Design for Pandemic Conditions: Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” was selected for the $10,000 award, which is meant to support researchers whose work is filling gaps in evidence-based design for health care, according to the Center.
“This research is not only addressing the COVID-19 pandemic but also about what could be the design feature for various kinds of infectious diseases outbreak. The lessons that we learn from the experience can help inform better future design,” Chowdhury said. “There is a lack of rigorous research that has collected evidence regarding the design [of emergency rooms]. We don’t get the chance to look back to see if what we’ve done previously is working or not.”
The University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, Tampa General Hospital in Florida, and the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago will be examined as part of her research, which is also being supplemented by a separate $30,000 grant from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
“Studying how various EDs respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, to understand the impacts on ED operations during the pandemic, will fill a significant gap in existing knowledge,” Architecture department chair Hui Cai, who is serving as principal investigator, said of its importance. “This study will provide evidence-based design recommendations through the unique approach of adopting retrospective studies and predictive analytics and combining qualitative and quantitative methods. Instead of relying on temporary solutions and quick workarounds for ED renovation during pandemics, this research will provide a more sustainable and long-term solution for EDs to have built-in flexibility and adaptability in concert with the ED disaster preparedness plan. These solutions will allow EDs to be better prepared to respond to future pandemics so that EDs can prepare for a future pandemic by reserving treatment capacity for both at-risk and non-risk patients and ensuring staff and patient safety.”
Chowdhury is the school’s 2022-2023 Griffin/McKahan/Zilm (GMZ) Graduate Fellow in Health Facility Planning and Design. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Bangladesh before matriculating to Lawrence and will present her completed study in early November as part of the 2023 Healthcare Design Expo & Conference in New Orleans.
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