Avoiding Medical Office Building Mentality

In today’s healthcare market, many surgical procedures have moved from the hospital setting to an outpatient setting. Stand-alone outpatient surgery centers allow for same-day surgeries to be more convenient and less expensive for patients and healthcare providers.

From the outside, an outpatient surgery center may look like a standard medical office building (MOB) but, below the surface, the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems are vastly different. Unlike most MOBs, surgical centers must meet the regulatory requirements of the State Department of Health, which includes the FGI Guidelines for Design and Construction of Health Care Facilities.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Systems
HVAC systems serving an outpatient surgery center must be designed in accordance with ASHRAE Standard 170. Increased air filtration, minimum air exchanges, and air pressure relationships to adjacent areas are some of the requirements defined in this standard.

If an outpatient surgical center is planned as a shell fit-out in a standard medical office building, it is likely that the MOB building HVAC systems were not designed to meet the requirements of ASHRAE Standard 170. Therefore, a dedicated HVAC system may be required to serve the outpatient surgery center.

Medical Gas and Vacuum Systems
In most medical office building (MOB) spaces, medical gas and vacuum systems are not needed or required by clinicians or the Department of Health. However, oxygen, medical air, and medical vacuum systems are required in outpatient surgical centers by the FGI Guidelines. For certain surgical procedures, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide systems may also be required.

The medical gas systems in an outpatient surgery center will be similar in complexity to systems in a hospital and will include alarm panels, zone valve boxes, a duplex vacuum pump, and high pressure medical gas cylinder manifolds.

Electrical Systems
As a result of surgical lights, sterilization equipment, and increased HVAC requirements, the electrical loads in an outpatient surgical center are much greater than in a standard MOB tenant. If the surgical suite is to be a shell fit-out of an existing building, evaluation of the building’s normal electrical service will be required to ensure that adequate power is available to serve the demands of the surgical suite.

In addition to normal power, emergency power will also be required for an outpatient surgical center. The emergency generator, transfer switches and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) must be designed and installed in accordance with NFPA 99, NFPA 101, and NFPA 110.

Ambulatory surgical centers are not your standard medical office building tenants.To meet the requirements of the FGI Guidelines, the MEP systems serving outpatient surgery centers are much more complex than those required for a standard MOB tenant. For more information or assistance with the design of your next ambulatory surgical center project please do not hesitate to contact Eric Sellers, PE at 717-845-7654 or eps@ba-inc.com.

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