Architecture firm NBBJ has come up with a new concept that could reduce the risk of contamination for patients visiting hospitals – a drive-through medical clinic.
While there have been plenty of drive-through testing facilities for those exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 — the time when the concept appeared — a full care unit where doctors can treat patients in their cars is new.
NBBJ — which is known for projects such as Tencent’s headquarters in Shenzhen, China, and buildings for the NYU Langone medical system — calls its design “In Car Care Unit.” And it has already drawn interest from two hospital clients in the Northeast US.
“COVID is keeping many people from going to the hospital,” said NBBJ partner Ryan Hullinger. “We’re looking for ways to make hospital clinics safer [and give patients] an environment [they think of] as safe, so they’re willing to come back and get the care that they need.”
The drive-through clinic is conceived to be a midway point between telehealth, where doctors might miss critical symptoms, and physical clinic visits. It is designed to be easily deployed in hospital parking garages and would take up 60 feet of space — which is the amount of space between two columns in a hospital parking lot. Hullinger says that components of the unit could be prefabricated elsewhere and installed quickly at the site, making for an affordable solution.
“We thought about three different ways of building this, and each would have a different price point and a different speed of delivery,” he said. “The most expensive version is the most permanent with walls and a roof. The second version is just the walls, with a parking garage providing the roof. The third version has what we call soft walls and roof that’s [made of] tented construction on a parking lot — that’s the fastest [to build], the most flexible, and the lowest initial cost.”
Hullinger added that all three options would still cost less than building a new clinic in a hospital building.
The drive-through clinics wouldn’t be limited to COVID-19 patients. In fact, NBBJ envisions them to be particularly useful for treating patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes and more common ailments like flu.
The clinic’s proximity to a hospital or larger clinic would allow patients to be taken in if their condition is serious. The setup would also benefit parents with young children, who can remain in car seats, and elderly patients who might have mobility issues and trouble accessing telehealth services. The main draw would come from the fact that patients wouldn’t have to enter a hospital unless they absolutely had to.
In the concept, cars fit into partitioned spaces. Caregivers would walk up to each car, rather than reach through a drive-through window, and treat patients directly through car windows or car doors, and treat them for many common ailments that people go to urgent care for.
It might sound outlandish, but so did drive-through testing facilities when they first appeared.
Situated in hospital car parks, the modular clinics combine personal safety with convenience. Designed explicitly to help patients access healthcare without having to enter a building, the In Car Care concept could help accelerate the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine — while also helping in other post-pandemic situations.
A public official could propose and help procure In Car Care units to help with COVID-19 related efforts, while also keeping these units open for other post-pandemic situations. This solution is certainly not cheap, but most definitely costs less than expanding current or building new healthcare facilities — all while providing extra convenience for patients. That being said, the In Car Care concept can bring nothing but good things for the career of the person behind this initiative.
A company could propose and help procure In Car Care units for the municipalities it serves. As such, it would not only help with COVID-19 related efforts but also keep these units open for other post-pandemic situations. This solution is certainly not cheap, but most definitely costs less than expanding current or building new healthcare facilities — all while providing extra convenience for patients. That being said, the In Car Care concept can bring nothing but good things for the company selling/building these units.