Phasing is Key

Renovating or expanding an emergency department can be one of the most challenging projects that a hospital faces. Unless you have the ability to construct a completely new, replacement emergency department, the project will require a phased implementation to ensure that continuous care is available to the hospital’s emergency patients.

The mechanical and electrical system requirements for emergency departments are intense and complex. A significant renovation or expansion of an emergency department will likely require the upgrade or replacement of major mechanical systems including air handling units, medical gas systems, emergency/UPS power distribution and hydronic systems. All of which are systems that must maintain operation throughout the duration of the project to serve continuously occupied spaces.

While emergency department projects are complex and difficult, they are certainly not impossible. One of the key factors in developing a successful construction project is to consider the mechanical and electrical systems early in the project development phase. The layout and modification requirements of major mechanical and electrical systems should be heavily considered, along with clinical and patient flow requirements, when defining the project phasing plan. Strategic adjustments to a project’s phasing approach can minimize the number and duration of major system shut-downs. Further, when the mechanical and electrical system design is matched and coordinated with the construction phasing, a single system shut-down can often be utilized to install connections that will serve multiple phases. This coordinated approach provides a smooth transition between project phases and limits the duration of time that a facility must operate with temporary systems.

When you are planning your next emergency department project, remember that early consideration of the engineering approach is one of the critical components to delivering a successful project that supports the facility’s need to provide continuous care to its emergency patients. A well-planned phasing approach can eliminate many roadblocks and headaches for the hospital’s clinical and facility staff, as well as the design and construction team, because the approach is proactive and not reactive.

For questions relating to emergency department designs please do not hesitate to contact Jon Slagel, PE at (717) 845-7654 or

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