‘If one day everyone is dressing in full gear of protective clothing, similar to an astronaut or man in the robot suit as visualized in the science fiction series in the 1980s’ by sculptor Kow Yokoyama; These men are air spraying sterilization everywhere and busy in searching for sick people on the streets, offices, and homes… Some people were caught and trapped at the isolated quarantine containers on a muddy land….’ This sounds like a science fiction scene, but you will not be surprised in 2020. In Hong Kong, when you go to the nearby clinic to seek consultation nowadays, there is usually a nurse with full-set personal protective equipment standing in front of the clinic’s entrance. She will hold a gun-shape infrared thermometer and ‘shoot’ each patient’s forehead to get the body temperature measurement (or there will be an infrared thermometer mounted on a tripod with her). She will also carry a large bottle of alcohol-based hand-rub, squeeze a large amount of hand-rub on your hands, and ask you lots of questions, e.g., where do you come from, why have you come here, do you have any sick symptoms in these few days, etc. Occasionally, you may see a team of staff dressed in another advanced type of protective clothing; they are coming out from an isolated case room anxiously and sending a patient to the ambulance parked at the back door. You will not be able to see the people’s facial expression as all of them are wearing a face mask; you can only see the fear in their eyes. All clinics and hospitals were in “Emergency Response Level”; this is one of the scenes during the COVID-19 pandemic in Hong Kong.
How is the image of the Clinics in Hong Kong after COVID-19?
During the outbreak of COVID-19, the Government focused on searching new sites and opportunities to increase the provision of new temporary quarantine facilities. The general out-patient clinics in Hong Kong are only passively acting as preliminary collection points for collections of specimens by patients and to handle mild suspected cases before the patients to be transferred to the inpatient/ temporary quarantine area. As COVID-19 ‘third wave’ had already started to spread in the communities and also cross-infected inside hospitals, it reflects the urgency to review the provision of our existing health-care facilities. The clinics shall play a key role by timely find out the suspected cases in the community and hence to prevent the rapid spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in the future; at the same time, the clinics shall also cater to the needs of the communities for the treatment of general disease and chronic disease.
Further to the research and thesis in the final year of my studies during 2007 to 2008 in Master of Architecture at HKU which suggested reshaping the Clinic by the new provision to the existing out-patient clinic, I have carried out updated research around 10 years after my graduation included the latest observation during the site visits at these out-patient clinics and discussion with the medical professionals, architects, engineers, patients and public, etc. during the period of COVID-19. Therefore, this article aims to link the health-care facilities to the community and society; to bring the improved, comfortable and humane healing environment to the patients and medical staff; and to remove the fear from the public to those controversial illnesses by the suggestion of New Image of Clinic with practical architectural planning and construction solution.
Background information in Hong Kong
COVID-19 pandemic is with uncertain source and ways of transmission since the end of 2019 first found in Asia and then in the world. While people are praying and expecting for this pandemic to be settled and diminished in the summertime, the ‘third wave’ pandemic suddenly came back to Hong Kong during late June 2020. Refer to the Government’s news released on 30 July 2020; the Centre for Health Protection mentioned it was investigating 149 additional COVID-19 cases, taking the number of confirmed cases in Hong Kong to 3,151. Additionally, the Hospital Authority reported that 1,168 confirmed COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized and 1,660 confirmed and suspected patients have been discharged. We noted that the numbers of new confirmed infected cases are over a hundred per day for the nearest nine consecutive days, and the numbers of locally transmitted cases in communities and in hospitals also keep rising. (up to the date of submission of this article on 31 July 2020)
Condition and Provision of the existing health-care facilities
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic during the past half-year, the Government had converted some NGO (Non-Government Organization) existing holiday camps into the quarantine centers and also built new temporary quarantine facilities. Most of the newly built temporary quarantine facilities are at remote sites far way form the urban area, e.g., the Temporary Quarantine Camp at Penny’s Bay in Lantau, with 800 new units of quarantine units to be ready by the end of September 2020, and the Government targeted to provide 3,500 quarantine units by the end of the year 2020. These new quarantine units are planned to construct using Modular Integrated Construction, and it would take about 2.5 months to complete given that the site formation, infrastructure works, and ancillary works are completed. The advantages of these quarantine units are fast and efficient in construction and assembly. However, the architectural planning, spatial quality and appearance of these new quarantine units are similar to a modified version of that temporary contractor shed at construction site nowadays; or even going backward to the arrangement of the temporary shelters that can commonly found during the 1960s to 1980s in Hong Kong for those rendered homeless as a consequence of disasters or emergencies. Although the sanitary condition of these new quarantine units built in the 2020s had been improved by the latest technology, such design is still inhumane as each of the patients are confined in a small room which is lack of activities space. These quarantine facilities may be regarded as one of possible practical solutions today for temporary needs only, but it is not ideal for long-term development.
On the other hand, how is the condition of the existing health-care facilities before COVID-19? As announced in the 2016 Policy Address, the Government has set aside a dedicated provision of HK$200 billion for the implementation of a 10-year Hospital Development Plan (HDP). However, the program for redevelopment of these selected hospitals would still be too slow as each of these hospitals would likely take at least 6 years from the commencement of construction works to anticipated project completion, apart from the time required for processing the funding application and approval and design feasibility studies, etc. and also any possible delays during construction. Refer to the comments from the medical professionals (see the interview record(1) in this article), both public and private hospitals are in shortage of bed space, and the planned facilities during the early design feasibility stages usually become outdated or overloaded after the redevelopment project completed.
Meanwhile, there are over 120 out-patient clinics as managed by Hospital Authority with over 56% of these buildings (hospital and clinics) were completed more than 30 years ago. Hence, the Government approved a one-off grant of $13 billion in 2013 for the Hospital Authority to carry out minor works projects, including improvement works, regular maintenances, and preparatory works for major capital works projects. Furthermore, District Health Centres (DHCs) will be set up in all 18 districts to provide primary health-care services through medical-social collaboration and public-private partnership, as mentioned in the Chief Executive’s 2019 Policy Address HKSAR to “shift the emphasis of the present health-care system and people’s mindset from treatment-oriented to prevention-focused.” The aim is to enhance the public’s capability in self-management of health and provide support for the chronically ill. However, it is observed that such minor improvement works were usually in slow progress and can only improve the part of the current facilities in a limited way, i.e., for mainly comply with the barrier-free access requirement or some annual maintenance and repair works, etc.
The New Clinic Proposal
From the site visits and studies to more than ten selected clinics in the nearest years, the new clinic proposal will be demonstrated as an example base on the site at Anne Black General Out-patient Clinic at Tsat Tsz Mui Road North Point. The proposed strategy of design planning and fast-track construction could be applied to other 120+ out-patient clinics at all 18 districts when applicable. With possible mass production and new provision to these clinics within a short construction period, it is believed that these new clinics can share the burden of some heavy services day-clinic of main hospitals, e.g., the Chronic disease, Dermatology, General medicine, Family medicine, Maternal and Child Health Centre, Metabolism & Endocrinology, Otolaryngology and Psychiatry, etc. and at the same time provide quality architectural space for healing.
The proposed design is also in response to the discussions and comments from medical professionals, architects, engineers, patients, and the public these years; and with reference to some newly introduced building materials/ products for use in health-care facilities or hygiene control in the Market. This article extracted some of the latest interviews conducted during July 2020, which is the COVID-19 ‘third wave’ period in Hong Kong, for readers’ reference or further discussion.
Interview Record (1)
Record of Interview with Dr. Ricky W. K. Yuen
Dr. Ricky W. K. Yuen is the Principal of the School of Nursing of Union Hospital in Hong Kong. He is also a Registered Nurse (General) of Nursing Council Hong Kong. During his career, he has extensive experience in management and education. He has also practiced as a front-line nurse in the hospitals in the government sector, founder of a nursing home for the elderly in the private sector, lecturer in the University of Hong Kong and in various Nurse Institutes before he joined Union Hospital in 2017. He was also a member of the Chief Executive Election Committee of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region during 2017. Ricky has a keen interest in youth education and community services. He is passionate about sharing his experience through training and stays connected to the industry and the public for improving the health-care system.
Comments to the Existing Out-patient Clinics and Hospitals
Ricky pointed out that according to the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance (Cap.599) in Hong Kong, hospitals in the private sector will only provide essential medical treatment for notifiable infectious diseases and the Department of Health recommends transferring the patient to public hospitals for further treatment. Refer to his experience and observation during the outbreak of COVID-19 in Hong Kong up to today. The government is taking ‘minimum infection control’ and ‘slow to response’ to the cases as the costs of a large-scale effort to fight for this disease are too steep to bear.
The out-patient clinics shall act as the ‘first line of defense’ among the health-care facilities, but the infectious disease can also be easily spread within the clinic and hospital area and then to the community. First, the clinics were not allocated with sufficient resources and facilities to establish or adopt a good triage system to classify patients attending the clinic into categories according to their clinical conditions. As a result, infected/ suspected infectious patients with COVID-19 cannot be effectively spotted at the first screening.
Secondly, cross-infection will still be easily happened among patients due to the current flow path of treatment even there are assigned areas/ isolation rooms separated from the major activities zone which aim to keep those infected patients away from other general patients. The route for medical staff to carry out their duties and preliminary treatment to the infected patient will usually in a one-way route before this patient is dismissed or further transfer to another hospital. In the ideal situation, the route is designated with a buffer area and ground down area for the medical staff to put on the personal protective equipments (PPE) before entering the dirty zone. After the medical treatment of the patient, the medical staff will remove the dirtied PPE at the ground down area, and finally, the staff will return back to the clean zone to work. However, it is common that medical staff will not be able to ground down and replace their dirtied PPE every time for each individual inflected/suspected case due to the tight time and resources at the clinic. As a result, it is unavoidable that medical staff to wear the same set of PPE to diagnose and provide medical treatment for patient A and then to patient B and to patient C, etc., and hence cross-inflection will easily happen among these patients.
Comments and Suggestions for handling the infectious diseases/ COVID-19
Ricky recalled that near the Lunar New Year period in late January 2020, Hospital Authority had activated the “Serious Response Level” to “Emergency Response Level” in response to the outbreak of COVID-19; Some of the hospitals had tried to locate the treatment and consultation services at the outdoor and semi-outdoor area to prevent the possible infection at the existing enclosed air-conditioned rooms. However, the outcome was not satisfactory as it was difficult to control the comfort zone of the healing environment, i.e., room temperature, humidity, circulation, etc., and some medical equipments were also out of order due to the wet and cold weather.
Ricky said, ‘recently, medical staff required to wear PPE such as protection clothes, masks, gloves, etc., during the outbreak of COVID-19 especially to handle those infected/suspecting cases, can we also invent some device that would be similar to a capsule/ container to “bed bound” each of the infected/suspected infectious patients? The proposed capsule/ container shall be designed in a humanistic way, with high transparency and with user-friendly feature for the staff to surveillance, access and process all the necessary preliminary diagnosis easily. Such double-layer protection (for both the staff and patient) shall highly reduce the direct contact and the risk of infection among the patients, staff and the surrounding when the patients are waiting to be transferred to the hospital for comprehensive treatment. Furthermore, can we invest more resources in the equipments, for example, to use robots to assist the staff so that the staff can remotely control those high-risk diagnoses/treatments in the future? ‘
Return to the reality, Ricky suggested one of the practical solutions is to adopt the latest available technology, included the use of computers, screens, and sensors to set up a self-help service of triage system to classify the patients into different categories by surveying in detail questions, e.g., whether the patients are coming from those dangerous areas with high inflection, any history of travel within the nearest weeks, any known symptoms of illness or fevers, etc. It is believed that the proposed self-help triage station can effectively spot the suspended case and also can reduce the time of contact and possible spread of disease before patients are allowed to enter the clinic area.
Furthermore, despite the provision of the sanitary fitments and hygiene facilities which can be found in the existing clinics, e.g., the basin at each consultation rooms, staff area/ rooms, nearby the exit and entrance, etc. which are deemed as essential nowadays, it would be much better if these areas included the furniture to be cleaned by automatically sterilization once it is occupied or used by the staff and patients.
Suggestions regarding the health-care facilities in Hong Kong in the future
Ricky opined that the policy and planning in health-care facilities in Hong Kong vary from time to time. The primary health-care services in all 18 districts, as mentioned in the Chief Executive’s 2019 Policy Address HKSAR, are mainly to set up some facilities for the education and promotion to the public only but without any grave improvement to the existing healing facilities. The key point is both public and private hospital are still facing the problem of shortage in bed spaces, which the actual demands of the bed space growth rapidly and are usually higher than the original planning. He said, ‘It is not rare in government hospitals, for example, the typical cubicle which was originally designated for 8-bed spaces only, then later added to 12 beds, then 14 beds. After the cubicle is fully occupied, some additional beds had to be placed in the corridor and some to be placed under the television set. Such an arrangement will be far different from the designer’s intended comfortable space.’ Therefore, he advised planners and designers shall carefully study and research the age pattern and the forecast population when designing the new health-care facilities. Universal design for elderly and community pharmacies may also be a potential movement and new trend for the health-care facilities design.
With reference to some other examples, for example, in Western countries, it is common to have small scale domestic specialist hospital of only several hundred-bed spaces for the purpose of effective and efficient management; On the other hand, in our motherland China, for example, the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, is with over ten thousand bed spaces. Ricky emphasized, ‘the planning and design of health-care facilities are unique in each country and region depends on the particular condition and policy, and hence, we cannot simply copy or to directly adopt the “hardware and software” from anywhere for use in Hong Kong. While we are looking for excellent health-care architecture to act as the hardware, it shall be driven by an updated version of the software at the same time – that is the policy and resources from government and hospitals and the support from all medical professionals.”
Interview Record (2)
Record of Interview with Ms. Mandy Chan
Ms. Mandy Chan is the Sales Manager of LIXIL Water Technology. She has over 10 years of experience in the sanitary ware industry to advise and introduce innovative sanitary fittings for use in various types of building projects included health-care and hospital projects of both government and private sectors specifically.
Sanitary fitments for health-care facilities – Concerns and requirements from architects and users in the nearest years
From Mandy’s experience, infection control is always the major concern among the health-care design professionals as the patients in these areas are easy to be threatened by bacteria in the surroundings. Selecting sanitary fitments for use in clinical areas can be a decision of life or death decision as water can be a medium for bacteria both habitation and transfer. The health-care design professionals believe that the soil fitments should have no hidden surface where it is hard to reach and clean. At that position, the biofilm is easy to be built up for accelerating the bacterial growth, for example, under the water closets (WCs) rim. They also concern about the flushing performance and the water splashes of WCs as it is directly spreading the bacteria and contaminating the clinical environment and even patients themselves. In addition, the taps and mixers should incorporate features to minimize or avoid the water pooling and stagnant water when they are not regularly used because the bacteria number can multiply quickly in water pooling. Without appropriate function technology, harmful bacteria, like Legionella, can be proliferated in the water systems, especially in hospitals where warm hand-washing water can be an ideal haven for pathogens. Touchless activation can effectively avoid the spread of bacteria by reducing cross-contamination, while it raises the concern of users on the sensor system management. Besides the hygienic concerns, the professionals also pay attention to the scalding risk of the patients who need special care in the health-care environment.
Although it is still not a statutory requirement in Hong Kong, the health-care design professionals will usually consider the design guidance Health Technical Memorandum 64 (HTM64), recently superseded by Health Building Note 00-10 Part C (HBN00-10 Part C) and HTM04-01. This guidance outlines the compulsory performance requirement that sanitary assemblies are used in health-care facilities for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Response and solutions in the sanitary ware industry in the nearest years
Mandy’s company is a global enterprise in more than 150 countries worldwide, acquiring the most trusted names in the sanitary industry. In their clinical product line of sanitary fitments, the following key features are popular these years for fully complying with the best practice of the health-care standard for infection control:-
One of the leading brands from the United States has developed some product series which feature rimless design WCs with smooth, easy to clean and maintain exposed surfaces. The WCs in these collections are not only fully complying with HBN00-10 part C but also support feature rimless flushing. The rimless design removes the hidden area of the traditional rim for bacteria breeding. Cleaners can see and wash everywhere inside the toilet bowl thoroughly and quickly. The feature rimless flushing creates a powerful vortex by two streams of water from two openings that clean the entire bowl. It performs excellent flushing with less water, while it can also significantly reduce unhygienic splashing and flushing sound.
Another leading brand from Germany has developed some product series and technology to provide a comprehensive touchless solution for WCs, urinals, and basins. To provide a high-quality outcome, touchless activation should be considered according to the HBN00-10 part C. This product series supplies the market with concealed fixing surface mounted sensor taps in the horizontal self-draining spout. Combining the function of automatic flushing at regular time intervals, it can reduce the water left within the tap and prevent stagnant water effectively when the appliance is not frequently used. All touchless products from this brand can be altered by an all-in-one remote control. It enables the in-house maintenance teams to alter precisely the functions of sensor for specific needs.
It also offers the thermostatic basin mixers and shower mixers which preset and lock the blended outcome temperature at the safe and appropriate temperature, while the fail-safe feature allows it automatically shut off when cold supply fails. The thermostatic appliance is special designed to be surrounded by a cooling channel which works as a barrier between the chrome surface and hot water supply. It ensures the outer surface of the faucets itself never exceed the water temperature preferred and prevent scalding.
Sanitary fitments for infectious control health-care facilities
Mandy pointed out that the sanitary fitments used in the high-risk locations, i.e., infectious control health-care facilities, are different from those for the general health-care facilities. For example, the sensor mixer should not only have auto-flushing functions, but also required to have ‘back flow prevention’ and ‘thermal disinfection’ capability.
‘Back flow prevention’ can reduce the opportunity of water contamination and keep the hot and cold supplies separately. In this way, the cold and hot water can be maintained to their appropriate temperatures; ‘Thermal disinfection’ allows the blend temperature in the sensor mixer to be stopped and overridden by the hot water supply temperature. It is the most effective on-site disinfection procedure possible.
In some leading brands, the automatic flushing, thermal disinfection, and cleaning mode can be activated simply by one press of a button of remote control. The thermostatic mixer model even incorporated a detachable outlet spout which can be dismantled easily and immerse into disinfectant without removing the whole mixer from the wall, which can reduce the risk of long-term biofilm built-up.
A new trend in the sanitary ware industry after the outbreak of COVID-19
In the nearest years, antimicrobial surfaces are in increasing demand from the market not only for the health-care facilities but also in the residential and hospitality sectors. Hence, ceramic products with built-in firing glaze of anti-bacterial coating and the anti-staining surface had been developed by Mandy’s company. The anti-bacterial coating contains ionic zinc oxide, which is proven to provide WCs the lifetime long protection to inhibit the growth of bacteria; The anti-staining surface can reduce the chance for soiling to adhere as well as the bacteria to take hold. It also equips the products with a super hard surface which is proven to be anti-limescale and anti-scratch simultaneously.
Mandy said, ‘after the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, people in public become more aware of the hygienic performance of bathroom facilities. The sales of those series with rimless flushing system, anti-bacterial coating, and anti-staining surface are boosted up dramatically from our retail dealer shops. Moreover, the sales of the smart toilets and electronic bidets equipped with the patented technology Plasmacluster developed by Sharp has also been boosted. Plasmacluster is a disinfection technology that creates a cluster of positive and negative ions and releases them both inside and outside the toilet bowl to disinfect it. Plasmacluster Ions has been proven to effectively deactivate harmful bacteria and viruses that spread through the air, like the traditional airborne Corona Virus.’ Therefore, health-care grade sanitary wares for use in the area ‘outside’ health-care facilities may become another new trend after COVID-19.
Other New Products related to Hygiene Control
In addition to the sanitary fitments which are highly concerned by the public after the outbreak of COVID-19, there are various building materials/ installations which also come with a specially designed feature in hygiene control these years. Mandy introduced, ‘there is a new product series developed by a well-known leading Japanese brand of ceramic tiles, their new invented technology is with good performance especially for the patients who suffer from allergies such as asthma and in high atopic condition. This new product series is popular for use in private clinics and medical centers nowadays and also become more common for use in private houses along with the coastal areas in Japan and Taiwan. The good performance of this product series has been well recognized and certified as Japan’s first “Humidity Control Building Material” by the Japan Construction Material and Housing Equipment Industries Federation and double acquired the first domestic building material of “Formaldehyde Reduction Building Material Accreditation” from the Building Center of Japan Foundation. We are also introducing this innovative product to Hong Kong’s market since 2019.’
Compare to the technology with ‘self-cleaning’ function which was invented around the 1990s’ which had been widely accepted and used at the external wall tiles, glass, etc. in the building industry in Hong Kong for over 20 years, the new product (as mentioned by Mandy) can be described as ‘breathing tiles’. This new type of wall tiles can clean and refresh the indoor air by controlling the humidity, deodorizing the odors, and reducing the harmful substance Formaldehyde (VOC) floating in the air. Inspiring from the traditional Japanese construction of mud wall, This new type of wall tiles consists of mineral Allophane, a natural clayey mineral contained in the volcanic ashes, and it has abundant pores in nanometer size (a millionth of 1 mm) which is optimal for moisture, odors, and VOC adsorptions. This plenty of pores enable a superb capacity for air cleansing possible, even higher than the diatomaceous earth.
This new type of wall tiles can adjust the indoor environment by maintaining an indoor humidity level between 40 to 70% which is the most pleasant level for human beings but inhibiting the spread of mold and mite. It deodorizes the odors by absorption of components which create the various odors, especially effective for the four worst odors we come across daily: Ammonia (from the toilet), Trimethylamine (from Garbage), Hydrogen sulfide (from tobacco) and Methylmercaptan (from pet). It is also proven to reduce the topmost harmful substances which are usually emitted from the new furniture and other building materials.
Interview Record (3)
Record of Interview with Mr. Gordon Lo
Mr. Gordon Lo is the Country Sales Manager of Allegion (Hong Kong) Ltd. He has over 18 years of experience in the ironmongeries industry, and he is highly experienced in health-care and hospital projects of both government and private sectors.
Ironmongeries for Health-care facilities
From Gordon experience, health-care providers always have special requirements when creating a safe and secure environment for patients, physicians, and staff. To optimizing the facility’s physical environment to improve patient outcomes, patient satisfaction, staff satisfaction and productivity, and financial performance, he outlined several critical security and safety issues facing facilities that provide care for patients and solutions that address the issues.
Rescue hardware is usually used in patient room restrooms, utility closets, small spaces, and convalescent homes. This rescue hardware is designed to address a blocked doorway caused by an incapacitated patient, which is a problem often encountered by health-care professionals. The mechanism of rescue hardware is used with center hung pivots, which allows a bi-directional door swing in emergency situations. When a patient becomes trapped behind an inward swinging door, the center tong depresses, allowing the door to swing in the opposite direction without causing frame damage.
Behavioral health patients are at high-risk for suicide in health-care facilities. In response to the special requirements and operation of these areas, there are specially designed ironmongeries to minimize the risk of self-harm while maintaining a balance of patient security and safety. For example, the door hinges are specially designed with a ligature-resistant sloped tip to reduce the risk of injury or death due to ligature strangulation.
Acoustic performance is one of the major concerns by architects/users as hospitals have special requirements for noise reduction to help patients heal faster and staff perform more efficiently. Hence, adopting a suitable type of quiet door hardware, for example, some specially designed push/pull latch, sliding doors with perimeter gasketing and acoustic mitigation on all four sides with automatic drop seal, etc. can help reduce noise and create quieter environments, included at the isolation wards area.
A solution in response to the outbreak of COVID-19
Recalled the outbreak of SARS in 2003 in China, Hong Kong, and the countries in South Asia, the health-care providers and the public started to concern about the hygiene control and the ways to prevent the spread of disease from a contaminated surface, hence, a wide range of products that feature a silver ion antimicrobial coating on locks, exits, and accessories using ionic silver (AG+), to inhibit the growth of bacteria by interrupting cell multiplication are offered by Gordon’s company and in the ironmongery industry in nearest years.
Gordon said, ‘The COVID-19 global pandemic is reshaping how we live, work and play at an unprecedented pace. Many people are looking for solutions that can promote healthy environments and provide peace of mind. Our company is at the forefront of developing and delivering more innovative solutions to meet the new challenges of today. We strive to provide peace of mind to those who trust in our protection. These solutions include: Touchless solution and Surface technology.’
Contact transmission can spread disease. Studies show viruses can survive on metal and glass for as long as nine days. The touchless technology and touchless door hardware by his company can prevent the spread of viruses by reducing some common physical touchpoints and by decreasing the number of surfaces pedestrians, thereby decreasing exposure. There are two touchless solutions: Automatic and Manual touchless access.
Automatic touchless access:
Automatic operators with motion sensor and “Wave to Open” actuators, or contactless readers are the most common. With the touchless actuators, pedestrian just simply waves their hand in front of the wall. The technology senses the motion and acknowledges intent to enter. No contact with an actuator, door handle, push bar, or door is required. The latest special designed readers can recognize proximity, smart card, Mobile Credentials and NFC-enabled technology without touching the reader or door.
Manual touchless access:
The hands-free solutions include door pulls and opening hand tools. In those high-risk areas at most of the hospital in Hong Kong recently, there is ‘arm pulls’ type latch enable pedestrians to operate the door with an arm, elbow or wrist to avoid contacting surfaces with their hands. Gordon mentioned, ‘after the outbreak of COVID-19, foot pulls products by our company are interested by the public and also inquiries by the health-care providers in both government and private sectors. We have foreseen that there is a new trend and will be in rapid demand in the market from now on.’
Special thanks to Dr. Ricky W.K. Yuen (Principal of the School of Nursing of Union Hospital in Hong Kong), Ms. Mandy Chan (Sales Manager of LIXIL Water Technology), Mr. Gordon Lo (Country Sales Manager of Allegion (Hong Kong) Ltd.) and those individuals who have helped or give advice for this article and the research.
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Author: HUI Siu Ming June, P&T Architects and Engineers Ltd.