Easy access to a hospital is vital to a good hospital design. When we say “easy access,” we are referring to the ease with which cars and ambulances can access a hospital, especially considering emergency situations. Is this easy access concept possible for Athens, Greece – a city of approximately ten million people? Athens’s residents live all over the city, from the congested center to the sparsely populated suburbs.

There are about twenty-five hospitals located in Athens city center, and less than this in the suburbs. The lowest number comes from the southern suburbs, which has a grand total of three hospitals.

KAT hospital in northern Attica

KAT hospital in Athens. It is located near a high traffic avenue. Greenery and trees protect patients from noise.

So just where is the best location for a hospital? Studies show that hospitals should be at least sixty meters from the road. If due to previous urban planning there is no chance for this concept to be put to use there are some mesures in order to surpass this obstacle.

Below are some facts regarding a hospital’s sustainability:

  • Noise bothers not only patients, but it also adversely affects nurses and other health care staff and visitors;
  • Adult patients have linked excessive noise to sleep disturbance and increased blood pressure, heart rate, and stress.

In the short term, at existing hospitals, the most practical mitigation measures are often related to building or façade treatments. Curtains or shading systems are the most common as they provide glaze prevention and they also let in sunlight and heat to a tolerable level for patients. Regarding sound absorption, the most common and easy-to-apply measure is tree and other greenery planting in the hospital environment.

In the medium to longer term, strategies such as the following seem to benefit patients the most:

  • Regulation of exhaust noise;
  • Limitations on exhaust brake use;
  • Restricted access during sensitive times to reduce noise.

What about your city? Do the hospitals in your area meet the criteria for easy access and provide a beneficial environment to its patients?

Credits: Photo by Athina Kyrgeorgiou. Data linked to sources.