The healthcare design industry is on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak, responding to myriad needs tied to the built environment to ensure patients can be tested and treated effectively.

Healthcare Design turned to its esteemed Editorial Advisory Board members and other leaders for an inside look at how they’re responding to the crisis. In this ongoing web series, we’ll share what we hear, as we hear it—the challenges you’re all up against and the solutions being put into place.

In these “Notes from the Field,” you’ll find an industry diving in to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and quickly disseminating ideas to help others manage similar scenarios.

Arthur Brito, AIA, EDAC, WELL AP, LEED AP BD+C, principal and senior healthcare planner, HKS (Miami)

In our response to COVID-19, HKS Miami is directly advising and working with senior leadership, clinicians, and nursing staff throughout a major South Florida hospital system to assist in managing and planning surge capacity. Collaboration efforts to date have included meeting on-site at each of the system’s six hospitals to explore options for emergency department triage, emergency department overflow units, and inpatient surge units.

Options explored focused on the creation of temporary COVID-19 emergency department triage and surge unit structures, providing our client the ability to assess and manage patients outside of the traditional emergency department. This allows providers the ability to deter unnecessary access to the emergency department area, separate at-risk patients, protect hospital staff, and provide opportunities to direct and encourage home care if hospital care is not required.

Finally, current surge capacity planning is in process with the hospital system to add 350 additional beds across their six hospital locations in South Florida. Preliminary locations identified include conference rooms, covered parking garages, medical classroom spaces, and rehabilitation gyms.

If you have insight you’d like to share in this format, email Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Kovacs Silvis at