Fit-for-purpose hospital flooring

Choosing and installing flooring for hospitals entails a range of factors other than just cost, colour and material. Busy tertiary hospitals have special requirements that flooring products must meet to be the best product suite, one that not only looks good but provides fitness for purpose.

Hospital floors take a beating from the constant rolling of beds, trolleys and heavy equipment over them, 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, easy to maintain, 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

– Length of lifecycle

– Environmentally friendly

– Cost

Cost is the least important factor, although, of course, the budget must not be over-run. 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 Redevelopment

Liverpool Hospital is the tertiary referral hospital for south western Sydney, 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 20,000m2 of floor areas. Rice Daubney Architects and the builders, Lend Lease, specified Polyflor vinyls for the corridors and clinical areas, and Polyflor Sport 67 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,” Lend Lease Site Engineer, Liverpool Hospital Redevelopment, Sharen Hanna says.

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 Polysafe 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 side bar) was used in all floor areas apart from the gym – waiting areas, patient rooms, Intensive Care and the operating suites – and 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.

As well as 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).

Saving dollars over the life cycle

An important statistic to remember is that 80% of the lifecycle cost of flooring is 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 quoted cost savings over their lifetimes of up to 48% for Mystique Classic and 60% 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% less water use.

“The initial cost savings can be around 30%, rising up to 60% over the floor’s life cycle.”

Environmentally responsible

Polyflor’s homogeneous resilient sheet and safety vinyl flooring ranges achieved Ecospecifier’s Gold ‘Green Tag’ LCARate certification in December 2010.

Polyflor is the first commercial flooring organisation in Australia and New Zealand to achieve Ecospecifier’s ‘Green Tag’ LCARate certification, and the only vinyl flooring to achieve maximum rating points in the GBCA and NZGBC Green Star rating tools – GreenRate level ‘A’ – when specified VOC Compliant. They are also 100% recyclable

The complete Kiesel range of self levelling screeds and antimicrobial adhesives also meets the VOC levels required by the GBCA. For Green Star professionals, this achieves an additional point within the IEQ VOC section of Green Star.

Practical colour design

Rice Daubney Interior Designer, Rebecca Yeo worked with Polyflor to develop two custom designed colourways for the Mystique vinyl flooring.

“The objective was to create a product that would be distinctive, not like ordinary vinyls. Bright and vibrant,” she says. Classic Mystique for the main areas was given a warm cream background, and the flecks in it were bright skyblue, rusty orange and black, hard-edged as if they were terazzo chips.

For the operating suites, Yeo had a challenge. Too often in the course of a procedure, iodine, blood or other liquids are spilled, and even if wiped up immediately, stain the floor a dirty yellow-brown. Yeo’s challenge was to create a colourway that could cope with this likelihood, but not look dull and dirty. Her solution was a tawny brown colour with white flecks for accents.

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