Future-proofing clinics with negative pressure rooms

Future-proofing clinics with negative pressure rooms

The brief

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Health and the Dental Council of New Zealand released new guidelines for dental surgeries to meet. These related to urgent or emergency care of COVID-positive patients (or those suspected to be), dictating that only dental surgeries equipped with negative pressure environments could treat these high risk patients.

On the back of the new guidelines, the Bay of Plenty DHB plan to future-proof their Community Health 4 Kids fixed-site dental clinics. They asked us to give them a report on improving the ventilation in six community-based fixed-site dental clinics, including designing an HVAC system that brings fresh air in and takes stale air out, including aerosols from their treatment rooms. This HVAC system would service the entire dental clinic as well.

Overall, a system like this will improve infection control and is endorsed by the Bay of Plenty DHB Infection Control team.

Our solution

At Jacksons, we are very familiar with negative pressure rooms at Jacksons, having worked on several in New Zealand, including the one at Greenlane Hospital that was built with the emergence of SARS in 2002/2003.

We used our expertise in HVAC engineering to design the flow of outdoor air for internal areas and dedicated extract systems for the treatment rooms, all in line with the MoH guidelines.

However, despite our skill and experience in this area, designing a solution for these clinics wasn’t clear-cut. Some buildings had difficult or restricted ceilings and a recently added fifth clinic is an older prefab building with an extremely low-pitched roof. This offers no room for ceiling mounted equipment, so will require an externally mounted system.

The outcome

At this stage we have progressed the designs to a ‘costing’ level so our client, the Bay of Plenty DHB, can better understand what a project like this will cost.