March 28, 2022
Best in State: Gold Medal
Future value for the engineering profession
Photo by ACEC
Project: EvergreenHealth Intensive Care Unit
Client: EvergreenHealth/KMD Architects
Faced with a likely overload in the capacity of its facilities to handle airborne infections during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to acute public health care, EvergreenHealth administrators asked P2S to conduct a feasibility study to modify a planned remodel. Initial plans to add four new intensive care rooms suddenly expanded to 20 rooms which could be converted into negative pressure isolation rooms as soon as possible.
Negative pressure hospital rooms prevent infectious diseases from invading other public spaces. The construction of these rooms is so tight that a pressure difference is measurable between the patient’s room and the adjacent corridors and rooms. These rooms require sealed walls from floor to structure and additional exhaust air to draw outside air under doors and through cracks to maintain negative air pressure.
For this effort, P2S worked directly with Dirtt Environmental Services to develop a custom extended wall panel that seals in the existing structure to create an insulated negative pressure chamber.
P2S and Dirtt have also collaborated to develop a flexible gas system, which allows medical gas connections to be integrated into the Dirtt wall using flexible interior piping. This innovation accommodates construction coordination changes without time-consuming and costly replacement of standard piping. The newly developed walls provide connection points for compressed air, medical gases and other utilities needed in the patient room.
The innovation of integrating utilities and medical gases into the wall system saved significant time during the construction coordination phase of the project and ultimately saved EvergreenHealth valuable time and resources. This flexible gas system has since been used extensively in Dirtt wall systems across North America, and P2S continues to provide health code compliance guidance for the development of useful new technology by Dirtt.
When the scope of the project grew from four to 20 fan-insulated rooms, P2S worked closely with the general contractor and architect to design and install new HVAC equipment on the roof. This design was a complex undertaking, with the ventilation demands for third-floor rooms requiring twice as many above-ceiling ducts installed as standard in minimal space.
Safety being a priority, the air exhausted from the CCU rooms is heavily treated. The new systems include HEPA filters and 100% redundant exhaust fans to ensure the insulation exhaust system is always functional, even during routine maintenance.
Installing and designing many large and complex mechanical systems in a confined space presented complex challenges that required close collaboration between the architect, P2S and other design consultants, and the construction team . Crews completed the final operating unit within project budget and schedule, even when construction was taking place in a working hospital under potentially dangerous pandemic conditions.