Choosing and installing flooring for hospitals entails a range of factors other than just cost, colour and material, writes SUE CARTLEDGE.
Busy tertiary hospitals have special requirements, and flooring products must meet elaborate selection criteria to be the ‘best product suite’ – one that not only looks good, but also provides fitness for purpose.
Hospital floors take a beating from the constant rolling of beds, trolleys and heavy equipment, as well as the pounding of thousands of feet, chemical spillage, not forgetting blood and other body fluids.
They need to be durable enough to take all this wear while being easy to maintain; they must look good over their entire lifespan, and as far as everyone other than the maintenance staff are concerned, be invisible.
Factors to consider include:
- choice of material – vinyl, linoleum, natural rubber, cork, wool or nylon carpeting
- colours and patterns – for wayfinding, marking out specific areas, and for their therapeutic benefits to patients, visitors and staff
- slip resistance – for wet areas and operating theatres
- infection control – antibiotic and antifungal properties
- other area-specific requirements such as antistatic properties
- cleaning and maintenance requirements
- environmental friendliness
Cost is the least important factor, though, of course, the budget must not be overrun. By giving due consideration to all factors, the choice of flooring product should have a positive (or at least neutral) effect on the organisation’s bottom line.
CASE STUDY: LIVERPOOL HOSPITAL, NSW
Liverpool Hospital is the tertiary referral hospital for south-western Sydney, NSW, providing medical, surgical, emergency medicine, intensive care, oncology, mental health, women’s health and newborn care services. It is a major trauma centre for NSW and has a strong commitment to teaching and research across a wide range of disciplines.
The first stage of its $390 million redevelopment – a new clinical services building – was opened in November 2010. The building includes facilities for the Emergency Department, Radiology, Outpatients, Nuclear Medicine, Renal Unit, Cardiology, Operating Theatres, Day Surgery and Intensive Care.
It has 45,000 square metres of floor areas. Rice Daubney Architects and the builders, Lend Lease, specified Polyflor vinyls for the corridors and clinical areas, and Polyflor Sport67 for the gym on the second floor.
“Polyflor products were specified because of the quality of the vinyl, and the performance parameters the vinyl products met, as well as their myriad of designs and colours,” says Sharen Hanna, Lend Lease site engineer, Liverpool Hospital Redevelopment.
Performance requirements included infection control properties for the operating suites, slip resistance for all hand wash bays and dirty utilities areas, and specialised sport flooring for the gym.
The Polyflor products used at Liverpool hospital are high quality, genuine low maintenance PVC flooring engineered to meet the needs of major hospitals, according to Kevin Doidge, field and technical services manager for Polyflor Australia.
Hanna says it wasn’t just the product quality that impressed her. “Polyflor has experience in the industry, and the team gave us continual support throughout the duration of the project, not simply delivering the vinyl and walking away.”
ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY, SUSTAINABLE AND HYGIENIC
Classic Mystique in two custom colourways (see sidebar editorial below) was used in all floor areas apart from the gym, i.e. waiting areas, patient rooms, intensive care and the operating suites, while the slip-resistant Polysafe Corona in Blackbird (charcoal grey) provided safe wet areas for handwashing, dirty laundry, etc.
Polysafe Corona is a silicon carbide and quartz crystal particle-enhanced, sustainable, slip-resistant product. It has an R10 slip resistance rating. To maintain this slip resistance, its coefficient of friction must be preserved throughout the floor’s lifecycle. It is protected with Supratek polyurethane, and, like all healthcare floors, should be cleaned with microfibre mops.
In the wet areas, 2mm-thick Polyflor wall vinyl in Polar White was thermally welded to the Corona floors, creating a watertight area. Welding eliminates seams and joints, providing an almost maintenance-free surface that resists mould, bacteria and soiling.
Classic Mystique is a low-maintenance PVC flooring reinforced with PUR, which significantly reduces its lifecycle cost over the life of the floor.
In addition to meeting all the performance requirements, Classic Mystique and Corona are environmentally friendly. Both product ranges have just received Green Tag certification from Ecospecifier (See sidebar editorial below).
SAVING DOLLARS OVER THE LIFECYCLE
An important statistic to remember is that 80 percent of the lifecycle cost of flooring is incurred after installation.
“Over the whole of the lifecycle, high-quality, genuine low-maintenance PVC flooring provides significant savings from being fit for the purpose for which they were intended,” Doidge says.
He quotes cost savings over their lifetimes of up to 48 percent for Classic Mystique and 60 percent for Polysafe Corona compared to high-maintenance flooring products.
Because these products require little more than regular wet mopping, preferably with microfibre mops, they can provide substantial savings in maintenance costs from reduced use of chemicals and up to 70 percent less water use.
“The initial cost savings can be around 30 percent, rising up to 60 percent over the floor’s lifecycle.”