Ambulatory Care Center More Than Meets Patients' Needs

Ambulatory Care Center More Than Meets Patients' Needs

Faith Technologies performs design-build work for Encircle Health’s $34-million facility in Wisconsin

Although the term “one-stop shop” has been around since the early 20th century, the phrase is typically used to describe businesses such as grocery stores and big box retailers. A recently opened ambulatory care center located in Appleton, Wis., has taken this concept in a new direction. Encircle Health is a $34-million, 3-story, 156,000-sq-ft multi-specialty facility that provides patients with a single location for all of their outpatient health care needs, including endoscopy, phlebotomy, pulmonary, orthopedics, urology, and behavioral health. Additionally, the health center features two MRI units, sleep laboratories, a pharmacy, an electronic medical records system, and a multitude of accomplished physicians.

“Encircle Health employed an integrated project delivery (IPD) approach, meaning all the participants collaborated before construction began to achieve maximum savings, eliminate any unnecessary waste, and increase productivity,” says Keith Verstegen, project manager for Menasha, Wis.-headquartered Faith Technologies, the electrical and specialty systems contractor that performed the design-build of the project's fire alarm and all electrical systems, including the lighting, power, generator, and UPS .

A significant portion of the IPD process included the use of 3-D modeling for all structural, architectural, and key MEP elements. According to Verstegen, this 3-D modeling process involved some up-front cost investment but ultimately returned considerable time and monetary savings.

“For example, we had a large bank of feeders that needed to run from the main service room on the first floor to the third story penthouse,” he explains. “The way the building was originally designed, the feeder route was out of the way and involved a lot of turns and bends. The 3-D modeling allowed us to work with the architects to readjust some wall depths on each floor to shorten that route, which saved a significant amount of money and materials.”

Constructed to LEED standards, the building incorporates numerous energy-efficient features, such as occupancy sensors, T8 fluorescent lamps, and daylighting trackers. Solar panels located on the roof heat the care center's water. One of the facility's most unique components, however, is the UPS/flywheel system that ensures power quality and the reliability of critical electrical systems.

“The flywheel, which doesn't use batteries and is designed to run for 20-plus years, spins at 55,000 rpm and stores energy in that fashion,” notes Verstegen. “In the event of a power outage or power quality issue, the flywheel sends its energy back to the UPS and sustains the load for up to 50 sec while the 400kW backup generator starts in approximately 10 sec.”

Another of Encircle Health's unique features is its fire alarm system. Although the design itself is basic, the system had to be partitioned off via firewalls in the endoscopy suite because of the surgical procedures performed here. According to Verstegen, the fire alarm system in this suite will only trigger when absolutely necessary, depending on what alarms are going off in the rest of the building.

“The partition took a lot of coordination,” he says. “We had to develop a separate raceway to serve the endoscopy suite. We also had to work hand in hand with the authority having jurisdiction to make sure we created a fire notification system that gave the customer what it wanted while meeting the standards the authorities were looking for.”

Project construction began in October 2008, and the health care center opened ahead of schedule in October 2009. Although the original goal was to construct the facility to LEED Silver standards, Verstegen says early indicators show this project will probably achieve a very high LEED Gold rating.

“This is one of the most distinctive projects Faith Technologies has been involved with so far,” remarks Verstegen. “In fact, the American Institute of Architects flew here from California after the Encircle Health facility was completed to study how we operated throughout the project.”

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