At the recent Zoom meeting of the design team for the new dental teaching facility / student hub building on the Blantyre campus of the University of Malawi College of Medicine, it was agreed that a visit to Glasgow Dental Hospital & School could provide useful contextualisation for the architects and engineers involved.
On Thursday 30th July, Niall Rogerson and I were delighted to host a visit by Paul East and Sophie Burgess, from John McAslan + Partners, together with Sam Haston from Buro Happold. We are very grateful to Andy Hamilton, the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Dental Hospital Estates Manager, who kindly accompanied us for the whole duration of the visit.
We spent the first 45 minutes in a socially distanced face-to-face meeting, which set the scene for the subsequent walk round.
One of the main issues which was discussed related to ventilation and air changes in the clinical teaching areas. Dentistry as a profession is currently suffering badly because many of the procedures undertaken involve use of instruments, such as high speed handpieces, which generate aerosols. In the COVID-19 era this poses wicked problems in relation to safety of patients, staff and students. Additional infection control procedures are required, for example fallow times in surgeries between patients who have been treated with aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) to allow sufficient air changes to dilute aerosol particles, and the use of additional personal protective equipment (PPE). The problem is even greater in many dental schools because the students undertake patient treatment in open-plan multi-chair clinics, to allow close supervision by clinical tutors. Control and management of aerosols in such spaces is very difficult.
The timing of the MalDent Project building design project will allow us to develop and build in features which will help to overcome these challenges around air-flow and ventilation.
The design team members were able to visit all the key elements of a dental school building and learnt a significant amount from Andy about some of the specialised technical aspects linked to dental equipment and associated infrastructure. Andy has kindly provided his contact details to the design team members so that they can liaise with him directly as necessary – another willing partner is welcomed into the MalDent Project team!