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Here’s how protection against flood is important for Hospitals

February 5, 2021 | Created by: Andreas Klippe | Comments

Imagine this.

You are still at the time of COVID-19. And it was rainy. The rain has been pouring down continuously since last night and the weather bureau said that it will not stop anytime soon. After a few hours, you just see the floodwaters rise at the knee-deep level and start seeping into the hospital’s entrances.

You go to the emergency room and you see the computers, the cables, and medical equipment on the floor. They’re wet. Needle holders, forceps, sterile towels, scissors, and small bowls are floating on floodwaters like paper boats. The nurses and the doctors are in a hurry to move the patients to quite dry rooms. The problem when moving the patient is that you also have to move other equipment like the hospital bed, defibrillators, anesthesia machines, patient monitors, and EKG/ECG machines.

Also, though the medical staff is doing their best to attend to all the patients, the accumulated mud and water on the floor make it hard for the people to move around.

As the rain continues to pour until nighttime and the floodwaters continue to rise, patients start to panic. Even those in the COVID quarters need to be moved out because of the worsening flooding condition. But how can they be moved out? How can they be moved out without inciting fear and without spreading the virus to other patients?


Hospital in the Philippines flooded during Ondoy


The scenario of a flooded hospital is not really an imagined one. It happened to some hospitals in the Philippines several years ago when Typhoon Ondoy (international: Ketsana) ravished some parts of the country in 2009.

And today, the situation is much worse because of the presence of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Above, I asked, “How can they be moved out without inciting fear and without spreading the virus to the hospital?” Maybe that is not even the right question.

The right question to ask is, “How can we prevent our hospitals from being flooded?”

While we are yet developing the vaccine needed for the virus, what we can do now is to flood-protect hospital facilities as much as we can. This is an important task often underrated by many people. When we protect the equipment or healthcare facilities, especially in this time of the pandemic, we can be sure that our healthcare units as a whole will continue to move forward whatever happens.

Flooding reaches the second floor of a Philippine Hospital


The idea of flood-protecting critical infrastructures is not new among government agencies and engineering firms. In my past blog, I mentioned that climate change is threatening everybody everywhere, regardless of the position of the country in the world. It doesn’t matter if you are living in Southeast Asia or the Middle East. It does not matter even if you live in Europe or the Americas. Flooding is a problem in many parts of the world that can threaten critical infrastructures.

Critical infrastructures like hospitals.

It does not matter even if you live in Europe or the Americas. Flooding is a problem in many parts of the world that can threaten critical infrastructures.

In his blog, Dr. Reynaldo O. Joson of the Manila Doctors Hospital pointed out that there are two distinct scenarios during a rain-flood situation in a hospital setting: 1) hospital-perimeter flooding and 2) in-hospital flooding. Hospital-perimeter flooding is when floodwaters are on the roads or areas adjacent to the hospital while in-hospital flooding is when the flood from the streets has gone inside the hospital building. Dr. Joson said that there is no in-hospital flood if there is no hospital-perimeter flood.

Flooding outside one of the hospitals in the Philippines

Either way, when a hospital gets flooded, the consequences may be difficult to deal with. As per Dr. Joson, the following are some of the implications when a hospital gets flooded:

  1. Access to the hospital is hindered. 
  2. Potential clients will have second thoughts of going to the hospital.
  3. Electrical and water shortage. 
  4. Manpower shortage.
  5. Breakdown of equipment and destruction of facilities.
  6. Health care delivery services are affected.
  7. The status and safety of the patients and staff should be considered. 
  8. Business opportunity is reduced.

Finally, Dr. Joson added that “The hospital and its administration should formulate strategies and action plans to ensure that it achieves all the structural, non-structural and functional indicators as stipulated in the Safe Hospital Initiatives of DOH at least.”

RS Engineers assessing the property of Philippine General Hospital


To protect hospitals in the Philippines, the Federal Republic of Germany, together with Flood Control Asia RS Corporation, provided a financial grant for flood protecting two COVID-19 referral hospitals in the Philippines. The flood-protection project aims to keep the hospitals away from the dangers of flood especially in the middle of a pandemic. 

At this point, the RS Experts already completed assessing and evaluating the two hospitals. The type of flood barriers that will suit the hospitals’ area was also already determined. This project, which started in December 2020, is expected to be finished in April 2021, just in time for the rainy season.

Engineering assessment in Jose C. Payumo Memorial District Hospital


In this pandemic, the least we can think of is giving our hospitals additional burden because of flood problems. A sure way of ensuring that hospitals can be free from flooding is by installing flood barriers. 

An efficient flood barrier for a hospital should be able to flood-protect the property effectively and fast. Unlike private homes, more people go inside and outside the hospital. Automatic and/or demountable barriers can best fit in that facility because people and cars have heavy traffic. Also, the operation of the hospital should not be disturbed by the flood barriers, lest we defeat the purpose of making the hospitals efficient.

In this pandemic, the least we can think is giving our hospitals additional burden because of flood problems. A sure way of ensuring that hospitals can be free from flooding is installing flood barriers

As much as we want to rely on sandbags or woods for temporary flood protection, time and time again, we proved that they just do not work. What we need are flood barriers that can handle strong water pressure and the ones using high-quality materials. They should be made of marine-grade aluminum, stainless or hot-dipped galvanized steel that is lightweight, heavy-duty, and non-rusting. These flood protection barriers should last for a long time — for 50 years and longer. 

The RS Flood Experts are currently working towards flood-protecting Philippine General Hospital (Manila, Philippines) and Jose C. Payumo Jr. Memorial District Hospital. The former usually experiences perimeter flooding and the latter, in-hospital flooding.

Engineering assessment in Philippine General Hospital

With this initiative, it is hoped that the government and other hospital administrators will consider investing in flood control systems especially that climate change is worsening. This way, they can provide better care to people with medical needs. 

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