Believe it or not, healthcare providers looking to revamp traditional office or retail buildings for medical use might find lower rental rates, expand services they might potentially offer and open up hidden square footage simply by paying careful attention to elevator selection.
For starters, consider the fact that rental rates for space on a building’s lower floors are typically significantly less than for space on the ground floor or higher floors. By installing a separate elevator and entry for patients, you not only expand the potential number of possible buildings for lease consideration, but may also allow for extended hours of operations, provide greater patient convenience and privacy, and find a simple workaround for when a building’s existing elevators do not meet strict healthcare compliance requirements.
Alternately, by making at least one elevator large enough to allow the transfer of a patient in a bed between floors, a facility gains the ability to put an ambulatory surgical center above the ground floor. Per the 2009 International Building Code, section 3002.4, the elevator should accommodate an open stretcher in the horizontal position 24 inches by 84 inches with not less than 5-inch radius corners.
New elevators also are helping to maximize square footage through today’s advanced technology. For example, elevator manufacturers are now offering machine-room–less options that allow medical facilities to maximize every square inch of leasable space in a facility. By eliminating the elevator machine room, the facility can gain an additional 10 to 100 square feet.
These machine-room–less hydraulic systems have nearly the same components as a standard hole-less hydraulic. However, the power unit is located in the elevator pit, and the controller is positioned in the second-landing doorjamb. This configuration can minimize the amount of square footage required for the elevator system, and recover enough space to accommodate additional storage or even an extra patient room.
Alternatively, elevator manufacturers also offer options with side-opening doors to maximize space while ensuring facilities comply with NFPA requirements for accommodating a stretcher.
The location, size, speed and/or number of elevators greatly impact the traffic flow and atmosphere of the building. An building with too few elevators can impact patrons’ ability to move quickly and easily throughout the building, and facility decision-makers must be keen to address this need.
About the Authors: Ryan Clinedinst, CSI, LEED Green Associate (firstname.lastname@example.org), is national accounts sales manager – new installation and modernizations. Brad Nemeth, LEED Green Associate (Brad.Nemeth@thyssenkrupp.com), is vice president of sustainability, SEO Americas, for ThyssenKrupp Elevator Americas.