Building Health Care Faciltiies
BY JEFFREY KRAEGEL
© 2012 FrontLine Security (Vol 7, No 1)

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Health care facilities must be able to operate under a variety of potential emergency situations, both natural and man-made. This reality creates significant challenges for those who plan, design, build or renovate these facilities. Now, in a landmark standard recently published by CSA Group, best practices for addressing the complexities of health care facilities have been collected into a single, comprehensive document.

The primary aim of Z8000 - Canadian Health Care Facilities - is to contribute to improved efficiency, effectiveness, sustainability and patient outcomes; in addition, the standard also takes into account disaster planning requirements and considerations for safety in emergencies by building them into the facilities from the ground up.

Designed to Adapt to Emergencies
The need for a common and consistent national standard for design and construction of health care facilities arose in part because these facilities house vulnerable populations and rely on sophisticated systems for essential functions such as patient monitoring, medical gases, communications and security. Z8000 provides a nationally recognized baseline for the design and construction of hospitals and selected care facilities in addition to measures that can help address crisis situations. Disaster planning requirements and temporary provisions for life-saving and emergency response systems are built into the design from the beginning, so they are completely integrated into the facility. Such measures can help in reducing the spread of infection and help to ensure the safety and security of patients, staff, and the surrounding community in the event of pandemics and large-scale emergencies.

Emergency management and preparedness concepts are present throughout Z8000; from ensuring that health care facilities are designed, built, and equipped to be able to maintain the safety and security of patients, staff, and visitors; to outlining facility technical requirements, necessary to respond to specific emergency such as infectious disease, natural disasters or chemical/biological/radiation (CBRN) incidents.

The standard refers to the four pillars of emergency management and applies them to planning and design for catastrophic event management. It addresses crowd management and design for prompt evacuation. It directs facilities to designate areas that will be used for refuge, decontamination, and as a command centre, as well as utility needs and back-up contingencies in the case of emergencies. It also addresses the need for areas that can be re-purposed to provide surge capacity to create spaces for triage as well as adjacent space that can manage infectious patients.

These are just some of the elements of Z8000 that contribute to the ability of emergency personnel to protect and preserve life in the event of a disaster or wide scale emergency in a health care facility.

About the CSA Group
CSA Group is an independent, not-for-profit membership association dedicated to safety, social good and sustainability. Its knowledge and expertise encompass standards development; training and advisory solutions; global testing and certification services across key business areas including hazardous location and industrial, plumbing and construction, medical, safety and technology, appliances and gas, alternative energy, lighting and sustainability; as well as consumer product evaluation services. The CSA certification mark appears on billions of products worldwide.

More than 600 CSA Group members participate in 15 technical committees relating to health care. They develop standards through a rigorous, accredited, consensus-based process.

Z8000 joins CSA Group's portfolio of more than 200 standards and related products for the health care sector. 

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Alison Swift is a Project Manager at CSA Group.
© FrontLine Security 2012

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