2 min read February 2021 —The COVID-19 pandemic has brought both reverence and scrutiny to the healthcare industry. With people paying more attention to their wellness and bodies amid the health crisis, there is a growing emphasis on healthcare instead of sick care. As a result, projects for new medical facilities outside the normal bounds of hospitals in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area are chugging along through the phases of approval and development.
The effects are marked within the healthcare construction sector in the region. For ANF Group, a construction company that has been providing preconstruction, construction management, general contracting and design-build services since 1981, business is up and running for construction of healthcare facilities with no signs of slowing. Al Fernandez, the President of ANF Group, brought his insight and experience on healthcare construction to Invest: in both 2020 and 2021 as COVID-19 proliferated.
“We have been very active, and our business has grown tremendously,” said Fernandez to Invest: in 2020. “We estimate that our business will grow by about 50% in 2020. I attribute this to the fact we have diversified our business more in the last five years than we have in the past.”
Fernandez no longer relies on hospitals with beds for his work within healthcare construction. Some of ANF Group’s most recent projects in South Florida include wellness and surgery centers, contributing to the holistic healthcare industry rather than just the traditional construction projects.
“This month, we completed a new integrated care center for Baptist Health South Florida located in Plantation,” said Fernandez in February 2021. “This building will offer primary care, diagnostic imaging, urgent care, multispecialty surgery, medical oncology, physical therapy and a spine care clinic.
“We are also close to completing a new medical office building for Memorial Healthcare System in Miramar. We constructed the first medical office building on their campus and were selected to build this second building, which will total 126,000 square feet in four stories. It will include an ambulatory surgery center, medical office space and a women’s center.”
Amplified by COVID-19, Fernandez points to moving services off traditional campuses and making them more accessible to the community as a major trend within the industry. He described “the strategic shift for the hospitals to bring services off of their main campuses and into the communities through both Urgent Care Centers and Ambulatory Surgery Centers,” pointing to specific projects.
“Baptist Health South Florida recently invested in a new integrated care center for the Broward community in Plantation, which ANF recently completed,” he said. “This $50 million project now provides an array of services for the local community.”
Not only are these facilities being relocated and dispersed throughout the community, but they also demand more space to protect healthcare workers and patients from the spread of COVID-19 and other airborne diseases.
“We believe this will translate into healthcare facilities needing more space, such as wider hallways and flexible layouts to allow for more space in rooms and/or the ability to separate people,” said Fernandez. “There will also likely be a greater focus on automation of doorways and faucets, etc.”
Waiting room areas will also look different from years past, being built for social distancing and to keep patients comfortably and adequately spaced.
“Surfaces in and around these areas will be designed for easy cleaning and sanitization, with the wide use of antimicrobial materials, such as polyester-vinyl composites and acrylics,” said Fernandez. “Hard surfaces and chair coverings may also feature similar antimicrobial materials for easy maintenance and cleaning.”
One of the most crucial pieces to keeping the air clean within medical facilities is and will continue to be dedicated attention to the upkeep of HVAC systems and a standard within the industry for quality control.
“HVAC professionals and facility managers will be looking at HVAC systems to help maintain optimum pressurizations,” said Fernandez. “Newer systems would potentially convert neutral pressure rooms to negative pressure rooms to allow the room to be negative to the adjacent areas, keeping potentially harmful particles from leaving the controlled space.”
The landscape for healthcare has been forever changed, and the new normal will be marked by a new era of attention to detail, wellness, and cleanliness like never before.
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