Hospital designers consider a variety of factors when planning a new healthcare facility, from fire safety to building material selection. But one of the most critical aspects for consideration is the infrastructure based measures that support infection control by creating a healthy and sterile environment. Medical facilities are a public space that requires a combination of openness and agility, which makes maintaining a high level of sterilization to limit the potential spread of infection a challenge.
The Need for a More Sterile Solution
We have more exposure to disease-causing germs than ever before – from those picked up beyond borders during travel to those living on the local bus route. When a person is admitted to a hospital or healthcare facility, they can be a host to any number of contaminants. These germs or viruses can easily spread to other patients, staff, and visitors resulting in Hospital Acquired Infections if hospital cleanliness and careful infrastructural planning are not considered. In American hospitals alone, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that HAIs account for an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths each year.
To continue making hospitals and medical care facilities a safe space for treatment and healing, healthcare interior designers and hospital builders are turning to smart building materials and innovative designs that support the results of evidence based design (EBD).
Smart Glass in Hospital Design for Infection Control
Switchable smart glass partitions are a key system to design facilities with high infection control infrastructure. Smart glass partitions are standard partitions with electrified glass that turns on and off with a button, application, or voice/motion control. When off, the glass is solidly frosted for privacy and light control, and when on, a clear transparent piece of glass (or polycarbonate). This type of glass, easily integrated into corridor partitions, doors, and room dividers, offer a multifunctional solution providing:
- High sanitation: glass is the easiest material to clean and disinfect. Like regular glass, switchable glass is cleaned with a simple antibacterial solution. Curtains traditionally used for privacy in hospitals when paired with glass are either disposable (increase waste and a recurring cost) or fabric (hard to clean so they are left unattended). Smart glass supports general hospital hygiene – a key factor in reducing HAIs.
- Patient isolation: while private patient rooms are proven to provide a better healing environment, they can also quickly be converted into patient containment areas in case of an epidemic or rapidly spreading virus. With switchable glass partitions, staff can monitor patients without entering a room, and depending on conditions, have instant privacy for security or treatment purposes.
- Minimal material handling: when glass partitions are paired with fabric curtains, personnel are required to touch these unsterile materials, spreading germs. With smart glazing, minimal action is required. Glass can be voice-activated, remote control powered, turned on and off through an app by office staff.
LCG® in Healthcare Facilities
Switchable smart glass, also known as LCG® (light control glass), can be easily used in areas of a hospital or healthcare facility where privacy glass enclosures are most common like:
- Private Patient Rooms
- Room Dividers
- Waiting Areas
- Consultation Rooms
- Operating Galleries
Creating a safe and sterile environment for staff, patients, and facility visitors is not only a necessity but a responsibility that healthcare builders and designers are tasked with. Using glass partitions paired with switchable smart glass technology helps prevent and decrease the risks HAIs and makes hospital designs more sterile.
LCG® switchable smart glass by Gauzy is available as a laminated glass for new construction (click here for a specification sheet) or can be provided as an adhesive film for already existing glass.
To learn more about smart glass click here.