The first report in HKS' COVID-19 Conversion series is a concept study of how to convert a hotel, with the goal to care for low-acuity COVID-19 patients, while opening up hospital space for high-acuity patients. HKS collaborated with Mazzetti to provide MEP expertise to advise the team on safe environments for patients and staff.
A predicted hospital bed shortage
According to The American Hospital Association, there are approximately 920,000 staffed beds in the United States.
Some studies have estimated that five to nine million infected people in the U.S. may need to be hospitalized, a third of whom might require intensive care.
While all people who get infected will not need isolation and close physiologic monitoring, there may at least be the need for medical care at some point during the illness which likely requires more hospital rooms than are currently available nation-wide and in individual cities. The gaps between current capacity and potential demand stretch our healthcare system beyond anything imaginable.
Knowing that our current USA hospital bed capacity will likely fall short of the need, we need to identify alternatives that can help offload the bed demand from our hospitals. What if we could utilize hotels for COVID-19 patient care and sequestration?
Full service convention hotels provide the best opportunity
As we dive into this exploration, we should start with some assumptions that will help define the rationale and potential processes required for this secondary use of a hotel.
- It would be very difficult, if not impossible without time-consuming major renovations, to convert and renovate a hotel into a fully operational hospital that meets all licensing and compliance requirements. Such conversion would not be practical or quickly done, and it would be very costly.
- A hotel can be converted to patient care space that is not quite a “hospital.”
- While many hotel types were considered, a full-service convention hotel provides the best opportunity to quickly create and support functional patient care spaces that will be needed if the virus spreads to predicted levels. Speed of conversion will be key.
- Full-service convention hotels are predominantly located in the population centers where the needs for COVID-19 treatment and sequestration may be higher and likely near major hospitals.
10 to 14 day timeline
This exploration is meant to ask the question, “what if?” and investigate some ideas that could be considered when facing a conversion scenario.
It must be acknowledged that this study is far from comprehensive. It does not identify or resolve all the issues that may arise in a hotel conversion scenario. Nor does it consider other hotel types such as limited service hotels, non-convention models or other building types. Most importantly, there will likely be staffing deficiencies and potential medical equipment shortages.
Systems may need modification that were not addressed as part of the study. While most convention hotels share the same programmatic spaces, they often differ in configurations and will require individual assessments. This analysis sets the groundwork for deeper dives into these topics, each of which will require additional study and consideration.
This is an approach that is based on the ability to convert a non-hospital building for the use of patient care very quickly — a full-service convention hotel offers this opportunity. With the right resources and team, a conversion timeline of 10 to 14 days is reasonable.
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