In this series, Sanitary Conception asks leading healthcare professionals, companies and owners to tell us what has caught their attention and to share some ideas on the subject.
MacKenzie Kusler is designer at Ryan Architecture + Engineering (Minneapolis). Here, she shares her thoughts on the concept for health equity and the importance of understanding site analysis, historical research, and the community context before establishing a concept.
- Understand the social determinants of health
Health equity is based on the idea that everyone has access to the basics that support positive health, but the reality is that it is highly limited by social determinants of health, such as access to food. and education, economic stability and the neighborhood environment. If health outcomes are rooted in where you live, then the concept for health equity must start outside the health care structure and in the community context. To understand and understand the conditions that determine patients ’outcomes before even entering a healthcare environment, designers need to assess the site, community, and historical context.
- Site assessment and historical analysis
The traditional analysis of the architectural site revolves around surface questions such as studies of sun, shadow and wind. To begin to reflect on and understand for health equity, site assessment should also include in-depth site analysis and historical research, which can shed light on essential facts about a site and how it is informed by or informs his surroundings. Findings may include a historical lack of investment or high use of restricted vocabulary in property acts that have denied ownership to people of color. For example, an in-depth analysis of the site may reveal an area where there was a lack of investment in public transportation. As a result, residents in that area cannot easily access care beyond their neighborhood. One proposed solution would be a site design that is highly accessible and accessible by pedestrian traffic.
- Community context research
Once you have gained a complete understanding of the site, it becomes essential to understand how you connect with the community at large. This involves research into how the social determinants of health manifest and influence the health of those in surrounding neighborhoods. For example, it has become evident how some communities may be more susceptible to poor health outcomes when COVID-19 mortality rates are mapped, with rates twice as high in populations of blacks, indigenous peoples and people of color. In turn, it becomes important to reflect on the social determinants of health that are manifested for systemic causes such as housing and infrastructure policy, how those can be perpetuated in the built environment, and the corresponding impacts on health and access to resources.[this addition pretty much repeats what she said in sentence above. I’d cut it]]To conceive adequately for health equity, designers must have a deeper understanding of the individuals who are affected.
- Reflection of community research
The concept is often seen as tangible, but can also be based on relationships and system designs. For example, research may indicate high rates of local childhood obesity and potential solutions could be a healthy eating initiative or nutrition education. Not only can this support long-term health and well-being, but it can continue to evolve with the changing community. This research can also guide site selection and development, spatially informed design, and community-related construction.
- Design of structures
For health equity, the concept must be highly reflective of what has been learned during site analysis, historical research, and the community context. If that broader understanding is not achieved before establishing a conception, then there will be a lack of opportunities for connection and community support. Architecture must expand beyond the physical building and consider the people and community in which they live.
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