Changes in legislation, leading to a greater demand for healthcare services, are only one factor driving the expanded growth of specialized medical facilities such as dialysis centers. Innovations and new technologies are creating new kinds of therapies and resources. In order to meet increased demand, there are a variety of solutions and versatile configurations of facilities; for example, smaller dialysis clinics with easier access in rural or suburban communities or “dialysis home training clinics” for patients to treat themselves with rented home-based equipment. Needless to say, flexibility is the theme driving facility innovation and the trend is expected to continue, in the near future.
The engineering requirements are changing just as rapidly to accommodate new facilities and the expanded needs in the healthcare market. For specialized medical facilities, the owners are changing and evolving to meet the demand, and as such, the engineering teams need to be increasingly more vigilant about communication and coordination between owners and architects. From an engineering perspective, domestic water and piping processes and intensive coordination with water treatment equipment suppliers is an important part of a successful project.
An average dialysis center project is 5,000 to 8,000 square feet with an open treatment floor and a patient prep area, a private treatment room for blood born isolation, smaller private exam rooms, and offices that might be used by a dietitian, social worker or administrative and support staff. The water treatment room is designed by the water treatment equipment supplier, the MEP firm coordinates mechanical, electrical and plumbing connections with plans to provide the power, water, drains and any other requirements for equipment. The engineering firm also designs the process piping loop at the treatment floor, dialysis water box connections, as well as the full MEP design for the facility.
MPW is a great fit to provide engineering services for medical facilities, because of our experience with the specific requirements of these projects, but more importantly, our proven experience and capabilities delivering these projects on-time and under budget. We’ve also developed innovative techniques, such as supply air diffuser layouts to minimize drafts that the patient feels while receiving treatment. Patients are prone to feeling cold so we try to distribute air around them without blowing directly on them. We also provide home dialysis training rooms with dampers that can be opened and closed by a wall switch to control air flow to the room.
In addition, we often plan for an auxiliary water supply connection for the building on all of our projects. They are required for projects in Texas due to the Texas End Stage Renal Disease regulations, and the costs are low; an innovation which we’ve extended to projects in other states as well. The auxiliary water supply connection allows for a water delivery truck to pull up to the facility and pump water into the domestic water pipes. This can allow dialysis treatment to continue without interruption.
We expect to see more specialized medical facilities in the future, in expanded areas of care, and MPW is ready to meet the increased engineering demand, anywhere in the country.