How COVID is Connecting us to Communities Globally
Jim Crabb, PE, LEED AP
Principal - Mechanical
Dustin Smith, PE
Associate, Team Leader, Mechanical Engineer
What do the ’96 Summer Olympics, COVID, and West Africa have in common? Until about a week ago, I would have said, ‘nothing’.
In 1996, Atlanta, GA hosted the Summer Olympic Games. Decatur, GA, my hometown, had the honor of hosting the Burkina Faso Olympic delegation, which is when I first became acquainted with this West African country. Decatur, GA and the city of Boussé, Burkina Faso, are sister cities, a fact I learned during these Olympic Games. Fast forward to the end of April, 2020, I learn about a COVID-infrastructure project in none other than, Burkina Faso.
This is the first project based on the partnership between the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Federation of Healthcare Engineering (IFHE). We (Mazzetti, specifically, my colleague Dustin and myself) have teamed with Carolina-based architecture firm LS3P. The project is the conversion of an existing healthcare building in Dédougou, Burkina Faso, for the care of COVID-19 patients. We understand the facility is new but was originally intended for maternity services. The plan allows for different levels of acuity, from low to critical.
We had our first meeting with WHO Helpdesk representatives on the project on Thursday, April 30. We expect to deliver a final draft on Friday, May 8. Quick turnaround!
The building is unconditioned and previously relied on windows for natural ventilation. We are proposing a hybrid system that provides mechanical exhaust, enhancing the natural ventilation and ensuring inward flow to the patient rooms. The team has considered how both patients and staff flow through the facility—we’re designating separate staff areas to ensure protection of the staff while minimizing the need for PPE.
We feel incredibly fortunate to have this opportunity–for Mazzetti to be able to invest our time in research of COVID-19 and develop ventilation recommendations for our hospital clients in the US and now globally. We are using this knowledge and our experience in healthcare ventilation to help facilities anywhere, threatened by this virus, including those without the tremendous healthcare infrastructure that we have in the U.S.
Dustin underscores this notion,
“This project is important to me because it represents the coming together of people to help the global community and to share knowledge for the betterment of those asking for help. This project team is uniquely aligned around a common goal, with equal voices, resulting in a robust product for this community in need.”
Interestingly (and not surprisingly), I learned Mazzetti has previously worked in Rwanda, co-designing the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE) in Rwanda for Partners in Heath (PIH). The concept of global health delivery centers on how we can provide healthcare to those that need it the most, regardless of remote locations. Appears to be a common theme, and one I’m proud to continue living today.