The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) have been working on revising the healthcare construction guidelines that were last updated in 2001. These new AIA Guidelines for Design and Construction of Hospital and Healthcare Facilities are scheduled to be released this month, and for solid surface fabricators there are some potentially profitable developments.
According to Dale Woodin, deputy executive director of ASHE, these new regulations grow out of a need for surfaces that can be easily decontaminated.
“Surfaces in hospitals should have minimal seams, and be readily scrubbable and easily cleanable,” said Woodin. “The new guidelines directly address that.”
One company known for its commitment to the healthcare market in general is DuPont™, which makes an array of products that support hospitals and other healthcare facilities. DuPont™ Surfaces has taken notice of the code and standard changes and Alexa Dembek, North American business manager for DuPont Surfaces Commercial Business Segment, had plenty to say on the subject.
“This topic is very important to DuPont™ and I think it’s going to be important to the healthcare community in general, and of particular interest to fabricators,” said Dembek, who recently joined the DuPont™ Surfaces division after running the company’s global business for Kevlar® (the material used in bullet-resistant vests) and Nomex® (a flame-resistant material used in firefighter gear).
“The 2006 AIA Guidelines for Design and Construction of Hospital and Healthcare Facilities really focuses on the environment of care for patients,” said Dembek. “This is the first time that there’s a preferred surface characteristic description.”
According to Pamela Blumgart, of the AIA, an appendix to Chapter 5 of the new healthcare guidelines states 18 characteristics of the ideal product for hospital surfacing. These characteristics reportedly include such items as being nonporous, seamless and Class 1 Fire Rated, and focus on the delivery of an infection control environment.
Fortunately for solid surface fabricators, that language matches well with the features of solid surface.
A Great Fit
“For the first time, there is definition of preferred characteristics for preferred surfaces characteristics, and they really underscore the capabilities of our product,” said Dembek.