Providing Healthcare Underfoot

Rubber flooring accelerates schedules and enhances care at Reading Hospital.

Reading HealthPlex has 24 surgical suites, including six hybrid operating rooms using noraplan eco with nora nTx flooring.

Reading HealthPlex has 24 surgical suites, including six hybrid operating rooms using noraplan eco with nora nTx flooring.

In 2014, Reading Hospital, West Reading, PA, embarked on a $354-million expansion project, adding 476,000 sq. ft. to the 147-yr.-old hospital. The goal was to replace and relocate operating rooms spread across four buildings and provide 150 new private patient rooms. Today, Seventh Street Tower, or Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical and Patient Care, as the new nine-story addition is called, welcomes patients and visitors to a facility that features privacy, flexibility, and the latest technology available to healthcare professionals and their patients. Running throughout most of the facility, which includes five floors of private patient rooms; 24 surgical suites, including six hybrid operating rooms; eight minor procedure rooms; reception and recovery areas; and an expanded trauma area; is noraplan eco with nora nTx, both from Nora Systems Inc., Salem, NH.

Nora nTx is a pre-applied, solvent-free, self-adhesive layer that minimizes prep work and eliminates drying protocols, saving time and money. The product is resistant to high moisture vapor emissions and has extensive pH limits, which eliminates the need for moisture testing and remediation before installation. Engineered to reduce installation time by as much as 50% when compared to standard PVC sheet installation, linoleum, and rubber, the installation system lowers the total cost of a construction project. With the ability to be installed over existing flooring in renovation projects, further timesaving is realized.

“Nora nTx was very important to us from a schedule and cost standpoint, because it did not require a moisture-mitigation system to be installed prior to the floor going down, which represents a savings in not only dollars, but also in time,” said Jeff Hutwelker, project executive with LF Driscoll Co. LLC, the Bala Cynwyd, PA-based company that provided construction management. “We believe that the time saved with the application of the nora nTx floor covering was approximately two months in our construction schedule.”

Hutwelker said the selection of noraplan eco with nora nTx offered two important advantages from a construction standpoint. First, the floor significantly reduced installation time. “Secondly, we had one company providing all of the warranty for the flooring, which is pretty much unheard of on other projects. We’re getting one warranty from one supplier on the project, which is very helpful.”

The flooring provides comfort for staff that is working on it, making it easier to stand throughout the day to care for patients.

The flooring provides comfort for staff that is working on it, making it easier to stand throughout the day to care for patients.

Easy maintenance

Others involved in the project point to additional advantages the flooring offers. David Major, director of facilities and construction at Reading Health System, was impressed with the floor’s simple maintenance regimen. “Maintenance of the product is greatly enhanced in the fact that we do not have to un-wax or wax the floors. The care and maintenance of the product has potentially been the largest, greatest effect with regards to selecting noraplan eco with nora nTx.”

According to Major, nora flooring was part of the original specifications for the building, but it was restricted to the operating and procedural platforms. As the building design took shape, the flooring specification grew to include approximately 95% of the square footage of the building.

Tim Cole, director of environmental services for Reading Health Systems, is happy with that decision. “It’s a lower maintenance product, requiring less labor and materials. It offers as much as 20% to 30% in labor savings related to the care and maintenance of the floor. In addition, from an environmental standpoint, you can clean and maintain the floor with less-caustic chemicals and cleaners as opposed to other traditional floor coverings.” Cole can make that statement because his department maintains older areas of the hospital that have a variety of floor coverings, including vinyl sheet goods, terrazzo, and VCT.

In addition to maintenance benefits, Cole points to the positive impact the flooring has upon throughput, the ability to move patients through the hospital. “With the nora flooring, we are able to turn over patient rooms very quickly—probably in half the time it would normally take to do a floor that we have to clean and wax.” And, he appreciates the floor’s low-gloss finish. “Historically, flooring and floor surfaces were real shiny and glossy. What we’ve come to find is patients that make up the older population have some difficulty with walking and getting around a facility when they see a lot of shiny floors. It’s sometimes disorienting.”

Patient safety is front and center for Marie Keim, director of epidemiology infection control and prevention at Reading Health System. “From an infection-prevention perspective, I think flooring is very important in its durability,” she said. “The fact that this floor is very solid and dense provides an extra barrier for us, and it gives Environmental Services a floor that can be cleaned easily. The surfaces are smooth; we don’t need to be concerned about residual water, bacteria, and other items going into cracks and crevices and harboring any sort of bacteria or organisms.”

With regard to a cleaning regimen that does not require the use of chemicals and harsh cleaning products, Keim remarked, “It’s always important to reduce the need for chemicals and any sort of agents that might potentially create drug resistance on organisms.”

Added bonus

She added, “I think the other positive aspect of the nora flooring is that it resists staining, so that betadine, iodine, and other agents that can be very offensive in appearance won’t be a problem. I also think the floor has a comfort and an ease for our staff who are working on it. The floor makes it much easier to stand throughout our day as we provide services to our patients.”

Looking back on the project and the selection of noraplan eco with nora nTx, Major summed up everyone’s experience with the product. “If I was advising someone who was selecting a flooring covering, I would tell them to take a very close look at a product with regards to the overall cost and the relative cost over time versus other products, taking into consideration both the use, the durability of the product, and the amount of time and number of people required to maintain it. When we examined this over the duration of this project, we found that the nora flooring with nora nTx is far superior than our other choices.”


datacache— View a video about the use of rubber flooring in the hospital.  

— Download a PDF of the project.

— Learn more about the flooring-solution products.

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