BørneRiget prepares for future epidemics

​When BørneRiget – Rigshospitalet’s new hospital building for children, young people and expectant mothers – opens its doors in 2025, the hospital’s flexible design will ensure it is able to look after twice as many patients during any epidemics like coronavirus.

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Private rooms with enough space for double occupancy, an entire storey that can be converted for patients in need of intensive care, and access for infected people to enter directly from street level without coming into contact with other people. These are some of the measures incorporated in the building plans for BørneRiget in case a large number of children and young people need treatment. BørneRiget’s senior clinical project director Thomas Leth Frandsen explains:

“Fortunately, the coronavirus has been relatively mild for the children who become infected, and the number of children admitted to hospital so far has been low. But if, next time, Denmark and the rest of the world are struck by an epidemic or pandemic with a new type of virus, we could be facing a very different situation. With that in mind, it’s important for our hospitals and children’s wards to be equipped to deal with a virus that particularly affects children and young people. That’s why we’re busy right now preparing BørneRiget for that kind of scenario,” he says.

From 200 to 400 beds within 24 hours 

On a normal day, BørneRiget will have capacity for 200 beds, but capacity for child admissions can be increased to more than 400 within 24 hours in the event of an epidemic or other crises – provided there are enough staff. This will be accomplished in part by converting BørneRiget’s private rooms into dual-occupancy rooms equipped with oxygen, suction equipment and monitoring devices to provide life-saving treatment. In addition, one storey can be converted to accommodate patients in need of intensive care, if necessary with a ventilator. The building is in the shape of two hands; each of the ‘fingers’ also has a section containing six wards, which can be isolated from the other sections to prevent the spread of infection from patient to patient.
 
“We were already proactively putting measures in place before Covid-19 struck, but the crisis highlights the need for the hospitals of the future to be agile enough to quickly accommodate and help patients. The next steps will notably focus on planning some appropriate work flows to ensure staff are well equipped to deal with the pressure an epidemic puts on a hospital,” Thomas continues.
 
“Moving forward, we can build on the lessons hospitals are now learning to investigate how we can be better prepared. Of course, we all hope we’ll never see another epidemic, but we must be ready and equipped to take care of patients in that eventuality, while also being able to manage the core tasks of the hospital.”



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