»Oct 4 Posted by Larry

Healthcare Design and Construction Standards Require Intense Coordination

Illinois Department of Public Health governs, inspects, and approves the occupancy of all new and renovated Hospitals, Ambulatory Surgical Centers and Nursing Homes. These projects must be designed and constructed in accordance with multiple healthcare-specific standards, including the Illinois Hospital Licensing Act and Requirements, the Illinois Ambulatory Surgical Treatment Center Licensing Act and Requirements and the Illinois Nursing Home Act and Codes accordingly. One common denominator for all three documents is that they all reference and follow the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101 Life Safety Code.

As one can imagine, coordinating the requirements of four separate sets of standards can be a formidable challenge for a project team. One particular sector of these codes, which I’ll address here, are the standards associated with entrance doors to Hospital Intensive Care Suites, separating the area from the public corridor.

ICI recently completed the construction of a Cardiology Intensive Care Unit at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, Illinois. The project required installation of a pair of single egress doors [shown below] into a one-hour fire-rated partition. This partition also needed security functions to allow nurses to screen visitors for patient safety. Because of above referenced codes, as well as ADA Regulations, these doors have complex requirements including:

  • Automatic door operators with presence sensors to stop the opening of the doors if someone were to be inside the door path.
  • Operation by a combination of a touch-less hand swipe on the inside of the suite, a card swipe for hospital personnel and also include an audio/visual monitor for non-hospital personnel to request access from the nurse.
  • Electrified, concealed, vertical rods (passage only function) must be included within the leafs of both doors, allowing for release of the doors by both panic bars on the inside of the doors, and by the nurse’s control at the station.
  • Electromagnetic locks, which will hold the doors in a closed position unless released by the use of the hand swipe, the nurse control, or the card swipe in the corridor.
  • All door controls are also equipped with a two second time delay in order to allow for the electromagnetic door locks to release prior to putting the automatic door operators into motion, and possibly damaging the operator.

Combine these factors with the condition that the doors (and all applicable hardware) must become fully manual in case of a fire or the use of the fire alarm, and the coordination involved becomes quite extraordinary.

CDH Cardiac ICU Egress_New1

One of the greatest challenges of this installation was coordinating the many trades responsible for each piece of this extremely intricate puzzle. The doors, frames and hardware were purchased from a supplier whose only responsibility was to manufacture and deliver the materials to the jobsite. The Carpentry Contractor is then tasked with installation all of this material. The Electrical Contractor then steps in with responsibility for providing the power and raceways for the door operators, as well as the card swipe and hand sensor, the power supply to the hardware, the electromagnetic locks, electrified vertical rods, and empty raceways for the Security & Fire Alarm Contractors. The Security Contractor then provides the card swipe and relays to the automatic opener and locking hardware. Additionally, the Fire Alarm Contractor wiring and provided a relay to the power for the operator and electrified hardware. The provider of the Automatic Operators furnished and installed the operators as well as the touch-less hand swipe and the low voltage control wiring.

As you can imagine, with six separate trades performing work on one set of doors, the coordination must be very tight in order to produce a successful result. If any one of these contractors doesn’t complete their responsibilities to the exact requirements, these doors would not operate properly and both patients and occupants could be in danger brought on by a lack of egress in an emergency, or possibly from exposure to unauthorized occupants.

ICI is pleased to report that thanks to the experience of our highly trained project management staff and subcontractor teams, the Cardiac ICU project at Central DuPage Hospital has come to a successful completion and passed inspection with flying colors!