CannonDesign Creates Modular, Walk-in Booth Design for Coronavirus Testing

As a healthcare architect and husband to a Chicago-based nurse, CannonDesign’s Albert Rhee, AIA, LEED AP, witnesses firsthand the enormous pressure caregivers are experiencing as they work to protect communities while caring for COVID-19 patients.

Keeping medical professionals healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic is essential in both slowing the rate of infection and meeting heightened staffing needs. Coronavirus testing operations are often the first physical point-of-contact between a healthcare provider and patient, bringing with it an inherent risk of transmission.

According to CannonDesign, large drive-thru testing operations have proven effective in limiting provider-patient exposure and accelerating test administration in the United States. But this form of testing requires significant PPE supplies, which are currently running low due to a global shortage, and presents accessibility challenges for communities who don’t have access to a vehicle.

Photo credit: CannonDesign

To address the need for testing in urban areas for those without vehicles, Rhee created a walk-in testing booth that is slated for public use.

“This is a challenge that is very personal to me,” says Rhee. “Healthcare workers are extremely concerned about their personal safety and the safety of their families. The current strain on PPE supplies adds enormous stress on an already difficult situation.”

A walk-in testing booth provides an alternative solution that eliminates physical provider-patient exposure in a modular format that is simple to deploy for temporary testing operations.

The design is based on testing operations already in place at Yang Ji General Hospital in Seoul, South Korea (featured in the video below. The New York-based architecture and design studio states that similar solutions have emerged throughout the world, but design development and production seem to be limited to single-user, single-site applications.

CannonDesign developed a drawing set for the modular system to establish a universal basis of design for broad-scale production and implementation of these walk-in testing booths.

Rhee began to search for a design solution that might eliminate provider-patient exposure completely, thus reducing the consumption of PPE supplies. While monitoring recent COVID-19 developments in his hometown of Seoul, South Korea, he came across a local news segment exploring Yang Ji General Hospital’s novel solution for public testing: a telephone booth-inspired testing enclosure.

The interview detailed how nearby hospitals expressed interest in the system, only to learn that the staff at Yang Ji General Hospital had constructed their booths without drawings or detailed plans. Albert drew upon his own experience to develop a drawing set adapted from what he observed in the video.

The booth system can be deployed on virtually any flat, outdoor surface and be powered by a single household electrical outlet. The dual-booth system is designed to accommodate alternating patient flow. While a patient occupies one booth, the adjacent booth can undergo a 10-minute disinfection process in preparation for the next patient.

The resulting design documents are a collaboration between Albert and Buffalo-based mechanical engineer, Raymond Shultz, PE. Together, they hope that sharing these drawings will help to advance and accelerate the deployment of these modular systems in cities across the globe.