Researchers study design choices for biocontainment units.

Infection Prevention and Safety

Infection Prevention and Safety

Researchers know the built environment affects behavior. In healthcare environments, with increased stress and high stakes, the design of the built environment can have a significant impact on safety, specifically on infection prevention. Risk of infection can be reduced through many design factors, including materials used in building construction, location of hand sanitizer dispensers, and knowledge of and access to personal protective equipment (PPE). At the SimTigrate Design Lab, we have studied the effects of the built environment on infection prevention and safety in many settings. Recently, we have researched the impact of the built environment on safety while doffing personal protective equipment in biocontainment units (BCU).


The PEACH Project

The PEACH Project (Prevention Epicenter of Emory and Atlanta Consortium Hospitals), performed in collaboration with Georgia State and Emory universities and funded by the CDC, studied how the built environment impacts safety during PPE doffing after treating patients with Ebola. Using simulations, the team studied the effects of the location and type of stabilization aids and floor demarcations; the ability of healthcare workers to see each other and trained observers; and how these design factors contribute to errors and risky behaviors during doffing. See our publications here. 

Serious Communicable Disease Unit (SCDU)

Through this project, SimTigrate became the first research lab to interview patients who were treated for Ebola in the United States. We wanted to understand their experience living in a BCU and learn how the built environment impacted that experience. Publications on our findings are forthcoming.


The SimTigrate Design Lab’s ultimate goal is the implementation of our research findings in real-world scenarios. As part of this effort, we provide our expertise and knowledge of evidence to advise the design of BCUs in local Atlanta building projects, including Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) and Emory University Hospital Midtown (EUHM). In some cases, this means performing spatial analyses and providing input on the design based on research evidence to aid in the decision-making of architects and healthcare administrators. In other cases, we create mockup spaces of real-world built environments where healthcare workers can simulate the care process, get a sense of the space that architects will create, and provide feedback on how the design would impact the healthcare process.  


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