Flad Architects

Diagnostic and Testing Responsiveness During Surge Conditions

Under normal operations, clinical diagnostic and testing facilities process a steady flow of samples, with a clear expectation of the volume of requisitions and tests processed each day to maintain efficient and effective operations. As evidenced by the current COVID-19 pandemic, triaging and responding to a surge in demand for conducting a new test assay for a novel pathogen presents many challenges to existing clinical testing lab operations.

With a long history of supporting public health through the design of complex, technical facilities for clinical testing and diagnostics, several Flad clients are now better prepared to respond to pandemics. These facilities are operating at enhanced levels, playing a key role in the effort to keep people safe by facilitating the need for time-sensitive patient test results.

During a diagnostic and testing facility's design, it is important to explore how a regulated clinical testing facility will incorporate adaptability into its operations. Change is inevitable. Whether it is a rapid response to a pandemic or the long-term adjustment to the progression of high-throughput analytical instruments, a design team needs a thorough understanding of how a facility will adapt to new technical platforms and different test assays.

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Serving the New York area, Northwell Health's core laboratory programs were formerly located on various sites. In order to enhance performance while lowering costs, Northwell Health selected Flad to assist them in consolidating their current laboratory functions. The new Core Lab New York consolidates their biological testing functions into a single, efficient location with the ability to test 20 million samples per year and the ability to adjust to changing public need. As a result, Northwell Health is playing a major role in New York State's COVID-19 response.

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A thorough understanding of an organization's operations model and procedures can lead to the application of Lean principles to address sample and waste flows inefficiencies, increase equipment utilization, and define spaces that enhance operational flows. For the Mayo Clinic, the Flad design team focused on organizing programmatic components to optimize adjacencies of an open and flexible lab concept in their Clinical Diagnostic Testing Laboratory. This 60,000-square-foot, two-story expansion of their existing facility supports implementation of Lean operations, increasing efficiency and productivity.

By addressing a wide range of practical considerations, the design team can enable multiple strategies to respond to testing surges, while also ensuring the facility conforms to CDC and WHO regulatory guidelines.

March 27, 2020