The Ideal Climate for Health Care Facilities

Joe Duggan, Communications

February 04, 2022

Architects design some truly stunning medical buildings these days, but what about the design work between the brick and the drywall?

One affects how you feel about the space; the other affects how you feel while in the space.

The precise climate control, ventilation, and lighting of the surgical suite. The resilient power supply for critical monitors in the ER. The lavatory in each exam room. These and other highly complex systems that help enhance patient outcomes belong to the realm of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) engineers. 

The MEP professionals at Olsson take no offense when people overlook what’s behind the walls and above the ceilings. That just means the systems are functioning as designed.

“Frankly, most people don’t care unless it doesn’t work,” said Tom Schleisman, associate mechanical engineer at Olsson. “People take for granted that their space is cooled sufficiently, it’s heated appropriately, and their plumbing fixtures work. That’s what it’s supposed to do.

The Fountain Point Medical Community in Norfolk, Nebraska, showcases the full spectrum of services Olsson can provide to health care clients.

 

 

In 2017, ground was broken for the 73,000 square-foot medical facility owned by a group of independent physicians. Described as a unique alternative to other hospitals in Nebraska, the facility is the centerpiece of a 55-acre development managed by Chief Construction & Development (Chief) and includes space for assisted living/memory care residences and apartment housing. Chief contacted Matt Rief, Olsson’s Greater Nebraska General Civil team leader, and we brought in the architects at Davis Design to fill out the project team.

Olsson provided civil and structural engineering services to the project, but it was the MEP aspects that required the greatest amount of communication and coordination, according to Becky Zoubek, an Olsson mechanical/electrical design technical manager who served as project manager for Fountain Point. We worked with our partners to coordinate multiple planning meetings, which included a few late nights to accommodate the demanding schedules of our physician clients.

 

 

Our team helped plan a facility that features a surgical center, an imaging center, recovery rooms, and a laboratory to support more than a dozen medical specialties. In addition, the building includes medical office space.

“They all had different needs because there were a lot of practices and specialties coming together in one facility,” Becky said. “There was a lot of space planning, and discussion and collaboration to make everything work.”

 

 

Ryan Ideus, an electrical design technical manager for Olsson, said he especially enjoyed the project because it allowed him to incorporate creative lighting solutions in lobbies and other shared spaces. As for the electrical wiring, Ryan collaborated with contractors and specialized medical equipment vendors to ensure the final installation was as seamless as possible. He also worked with Andrew Ohlman, Olsson’s electrical subject matter expert who specializes in low-voltage systems.

“It was challenging but fun to figure that out and coordinate with the mechanical engineer and the architect to ensure there was space on the wall for everything,” Ryan said. “It’s detail-oriented work that takes a lot of communication.”

Tom Schleisman, the engineer who handled the mechanical designs, said the surgical suite fell under the more stringent mechanical codes written for hospitals.

“In operating rooms, they have very specific humidity and temperature requirements,” Tom said. “We designed a variable air volume system for the facility, which required a lot of duct work. The project required a lot of systems – water filtration, boilers for hydronic hot water, and specialized control systems for the operating rooms. It really was a fun and challenging project to be a part of.”

 

 

The project was delivered on time and on budget. One key to keeping such a complex project on track was the fact that so many of the essential engineering services were provided by Olsson.

“This project shows the breadth of services that Olsson can deliver,” Becky said. “We have the depth in our teams to provide all necessary resources, which translates to efficiency, hitting deadlines, and serving our clients.”

Fountain Point Medical Community began serving patients in Norfolk and northeast Nebraska in late 2019.

 


 

Olsson has the specialized technical experience and depth to bring a wide range of medical facility projects to completion.

Olsson’s Lincoln/Omaha/Des Moines Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) team is led by Tyler Fritz, whose professional experience includes major hospital projects in Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Oklahoma, Kansas, and other states. We have reinforced our health care capabilities with the recent additions of Eric Granzow, mechanical technical leader who has 20 years of experience in the industry; Tyler Jensen, mechanical/electrical project engineer who has 10 years of health care experience; and Dan Rudolph, Olsson’s commissioning agent who has 25 years of experience, much of it focused on health care projects.

Reach out to Tyler at 720.233.3630 or tfritz@olsson.com.

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