Covid-19 facilities and acoustics

Test Centers in Denmark

Test Center Copenhagen Airport
COVID19 Test Center Copenhagen Airport

White tents show up around Denmark – and have been since March 2020. Covid-19 test centers and treatment facilities around the world have been part of our lives the last months and almost everywhere temporary healthcare facilities are needed.

In some countries Covid-patients have to get treatment in alternative hospital units – or maybe in a building that was meant for something else. This is the world right now.

The Pandemic

In a crisis situation we need to focus on the most important challenges first, which is saving lives, cure and care, and rarely acoustics are ‘most important’ during this pandemic.

We see nurses and doctors and other medical staff working double and triple shifts and their workload has been increasing massively at the same time as their physical working environments have changed a lot.

Off-site construction modules

Often containers or prefabricated modules are part of ‘normal’ healthcare facilities and the more specialized areas in healthcare like operation theatres benefit from these off-site construction modules. In a building process they often save time and money, and like LEGO-bites they are easily put into the building.

Unfortunately, these modules are often built with metal surfaces only which cause high sound pressure levels, long reverberation times and insufficient speech clarity, but it is possible to alter these modules! In Sweden a study showed how easy it was to change the acoustics in these facilities (read about the study here)

The Company CP

Now – back to the test centers and healthcare containers in Denmark.  The company CP has many years of experience in the field of temporary buildings and especially on construction sites their containers show up. They have a more or less fixed solution for almost every purpose – and they have long experience of using acoustic ceilings to secure good working environments for the staff.

But when the pandemic took off there was not time to ask questions when their containers were asked for – and therefore containers without acoustic treatment for test facilities were placed all over Denmark. There was no demand for acoustics and in a crisis situation there is no time to think twice.

Unfortunately, the staff was complaining about their working environment and an interview with René Larsen who is managing the test center project had to act quickly.

The staff had very long days and couldn’t concentrate in these bad sound environments.

Instead of the ‘usual’ acoustic solution (wall to wall acoustic ceiling) they had to work on the already installed containers – there was no time to change to other containers – 20.000 tests a day on every location had to happen NOW.

Acoustics quick fix!

They installed acoustic free hanging units in the ceiling to alter the acoustics of the containers to make it possible for the staff to fulfill their tasks. Speech clarity IS important in these containers since the staff needs to pick up the right information when patients/people arrive to the test facilities.

Acoustic solution: Free hanging units.
Acoustic solution: Free hanging units.

Social security numbers are given – and mistakes are not allowed to be made. Even in a digital world were identification papers are scanned staff needs the patients to say out loud their name and/or social security number JUST to make sure that the right sample goes to the right person. And in small containers where 4 staff members and 4 patients/people are at the same time, acoustics are of high importance!

Well done CP!

Future solutions?

What do we do to secure good working environments AND calm healthcare facilities for patients during a pandemic where temporary modules, containers or buildings need to be used? Is it at all possible to think about good room acoustics when the crisis hit? In some cases, it is impossible (and wrong) to focus on acoustics issues but there is no doubt that IF we have the opportunity, good room acoustics are also part of the cure.

We know that sound and acoustics affect patients and staff and the Danish CP – ‘quick fix’ made a positive change. Sometimes the answer is competence and compromise.


Healthcare Environments 147 Psychoacoustics 40 Uncategorized 63

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