NYMC Hosts Webinar to Address (Re)building Our Community
Resiliency and adaptation were the theme of the webinar, (Re)building Our Community, hosted and moderated by Salomon Amar, D.D.S., Ph.D., vice president for research at New York Medical College and provost for biomedical research at Touro College and University System on May 13.
Three guest speakers examined what the reopening of communities and cities, including college and university campuses, after the COVID-19 pandemic might look like.
Jennifer Keesmaat, an urban planner and former Toronto chief city planner, presented, “Getting From Now to After Now," examining the link between public space and public health and how cities need to think about the post-quarantine transition phase where social distancing will become part of reality. Passionate about creating places where people flourish, Ms. Keesmaat urged decision makers to consider and communicate planning using the timeline of phases: 1) The Now (lockdown) 2) After Now (transition) and 3) The New Normal (after vaccine). “There is a risk of confusion about what a lockdown response looks like versus what a new normal response looks like,” she explained.
Joan Saba, a partner at NBBJ, a global architecture firm, and who specializes in health care architecture and planning, with a focus on academic medical centers, pediatric and teaching hospitals, presented “Designing for The Next One.” She spoke on the future design of hospitals and other public spaces to enhance safety and the ability to live comfortably with another pandemic. She shared her insight on what we are learning from the current pandemic and how it will affect the design of health care facilities for future pandemics, including controlled access points and segregation, wayfinding signage, multi-use areas, modular temporary facilities and outdoor space. “As designers we have a whole new perspective on clinical workers and support staff,” Ms. Saba said. “We have a deeper appreciation of how a design can make them feel safer, how it can help prevent burnout and how it can support them spiritually and emotionally.”
Wrapping up the webinar was Katharine Lusk, executive director, Boston University Initiative on Cities, a research center that focuses on urban policy, environments and leadership with a special focus on mayoral leadership. Ms. Lusk presented “Stronger Cities Need Involved Leaders.” “We need local leaders to communicate clearly with all residents and inspire confidence,” she said. She described policy decisions that civic leaders will need to consider to make cities more resilient and the opportunities the situation presents including confronting grief together, making safe space for people, especially pedestrians and cyclists, and maintaining the environmental benefits like cleaner air.