Healthcare Design Bible

When leasing or selling medical properties it is prudent to verify that the property can actually be for the intended use.

The first requirement is to check the zoning to see if the municipality will allow healthcare use.  Next, architects will look at the State Building Code which provides very little specific information for designing a healthcare facility.  However; most state codes, including New Jersey, requires Healthcare projects to be in conformance with The Facility Guidelines Institute (FGI) “Guidelines for Design and Construction of Hospital and Outpatient Facilities” and “Guidelines for Design and Construction of Residential Health, Care, and Support Facilities.”  This is our healthcare design bible.

A 100-member, multidisciplinary Health Guidelines Revision Committee revises and updates the text every four years. As Healthcare Designers we currently use the 2014 Guideline. Some of the changes proposed for the 2018 version include:

 Hospitals and Outpatient Facilities:

  • New guidance on design of telemedicine spaces
  • New design requirements for accommodations for care of patients of size
  • Clarification of procedure room and operating room requirements: procedure types, facility types, hybrid ORs
  • New classification structure based on procedures performed and patient acuity for determining imaging room requirements
  • New flexibility in pre- and post-procedure patient care area design requirements
  • Two options for sterile processing area design: two required rooms (decontamination and clean) with an exception for a single room for small tabletop sterilizers
  • New design requirements for a sexual assault forensic examination room
  • Revised mobile/transportable medical unit chapter
  • Updated acoustics requirements
  • Expanded sustainability requirements re: waste minimization, potable water, and energy efficiency
  • Revised guidance for emergency preparedness and management (formerly provisions for disasters)

Residential Health, Care, and Support Facilities:

  • Updated acoustics and lighting requirements
  • Updated minimum requirements for grab bar configurations to align with the latest research
  • New chapter on settings for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities
  • New chapter on long-term residential substance abuse treatment facilities
  • New telemedicine section to address the increasing provision of telemedicine services in residential facilities
  • Language shift from “bariatric resident” to “person of size” since people who need accommodations include those who are not necessarily obese or receiving treatment for obesity, such as very tall people

Since the current FGI Guidelines (about 690 pages) has a dramatic effect on the viability, functionality and cost of healthcare projects it is important when developing a healthcare project to have a full understanding of all requirements.

Written by

Joel Ives

Joel Ives is the founding partner of The Ives Architecture Studio. He has over 30 years of architectural and urban planning experience in the New York metropolitan area

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