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The AEC Community’s Response to COVID-19

The AEC Community’s response to COVID-19 and Discussion about The Future

In this unprecedented time of a pandemic, the Architectural, Engineering and Construction (AEC) community is utilizing its creativity to help respond. Giving Design has been tracking these efforts as well as discussing how to help provide our own expertise in this time of need. Below are some examples of how the AEC community is responding, including links to research and some thoughts about impact and how we can move forward.

RESOURCES

The American Institute of Architecture (AIA) has created a COVID-19 resources for architects on their website, aia.org. This is to help architects survive the impacts to their practices through business continuity, disaster assistance, a compendium for Good Samaritans, small business guidance, best practices, how firms are responding to COVID-19, guide to managing remote workers, etc.

  • AIA California has a similar site for those of you located here in California. Other states are also compiling resources, so check out your city or state AIA for additional information.

  • The Association of General Contractors (AGC) has an equivalent resource site for General Contractors, Link Here

  • The Commercial Interior Design Association (IIDA) has a series of webinars on their site, Link Here

  • The American Society of Healthcare Engineers (ASHE) has helpful links on their website, Link Here

  • The American Hospital Association (AHA) also has information and resources, Link Here

PREFABRICATION AND OTHER RESEARCH EFFORTS

Here at Giving Design our board members and staff have been brainstorming ways to respond. Here are some initial thoughts:

ASSET ALLOCATION

It appears that during a pandemic, our everyday normal is disrupted and we have an excess of certain assets (such as hotel rooms, airlines, etc.), while other assets (such as hospital rooms and ventilators) are short in supply. One approach might be to identify how to reallocate excess assets. For instance:


  • With the travel industry down, hotel rooms, convention centers, cruise ships and airplanes could be leveraged as temporary hospitals, either for COVID-19 patients or as a way to shift non-COVID-19 or less acute patients to these temporary facilities in order to offset the spike in demand for health services

  • Ambulatory surgery centers with their own pre-op and post-anesthesia care units (PACUs) are not needed as much when elective surgeries are deferred. Perhaps regulations could be reduced to mitigate the 23-hour stay limitation in order to handle additional capacity (or these units could be utilized for non-COVID-19 cases)

  • We already have a physician and nurse shortage in the U.S., and the coronavirus has both highlighted and exacerbated this problem. There have been calls for physicians and nurses to come out of retirement to help, and another possibility is to temporarily allow foreign-trained physicians, currently not allowed to practice in the U.S. due to regulatory/licensing requirements, to be leveraged in an emergency as a sort of “National Guard of Medicine”

  • Giving Design’s nonprofit partner Care Harbor, which provides healthcare to the uninsured, is donating supplies to local schools and other healthcare organizations for COVID-19 assistance. Let’s remember these and other like-minded organizations in our planned giving once this crisis has settled down.

  • Many of our local restaurants have moved to takeout-only approaches, but they could also be used to feed a potential increase in the homeless or uninsured populations as unemployment continues to surge. Don’t forget to support your local restaurants in this time of need!

  • One of the ways that Giving Design helps is by collecting donated materials and furniture for nonprofit organizations to use in their new or renovated facilities. During this time of potential pop-up or temporary hospitals, consider donating excess materials, furniture or time to the institutions in need of our help.


ON RESILIENCY


Most states have regulations for maintaining operations during a crisis, such as an earthquake, flood, hurricane, wildfire or other event. For example, in California new hospitals are required per seismic code to have a three-day supply of water, sewer containment and emergency generators to allow continued operations.

Most of these regulations assume that the city, state or nation will be able to fill in the gaps in logistics during a local crisis; however, in the case of a global pandemic like COVID-19, these assumptions are flawed and the city, state, nation and global community is unable to adequately support local services. We have seen states fight the federal government and other states to obtain much-needed supplies, and witnessed countries work against one another as each focuses on their own needs. It is tribalism at its worst.

We need to rethink resiliency for these global pandemics or events. Some of these can be handled by the asset reallocation ideas above, or by pop-up / temporary / prefabricated hospitals, but these are short-term solutions. They still need to be supplied. We need a national and international coordinated process for these types of events. After the oil embargoes in the 1980s we maintained oil reserves in the U.S. We know now that we need a medical supply reserve of equipment, pharmaceuticals, etc.; however, this reserve will need to be maintained as well as rotated through so that stockpiles are always current.

We are sure many of you are helping in this time of need. We hope that you will continue using your creativity and compassion, as we are definitely one community and need to remain united as we deal with this current situation. We had originally planned a spring event to help raise funds to assist our clients, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic we have delayed the event to some future time when normalcy returns. Please check out GivingDesign.org for ongoing discussions and event updates, and we hope you will send us comments and thoughts to expand this conversation and guide us as to how we can help.

Stay Safe and Well!

Christine Hardin, Gary Goldberg and Lee Brennan

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Giving Design

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