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Thorburn Associates Provide Acoustic Solution for Santa Clara Hospital

Thorburn Associates (TA) developed the acoustical design for the newly opened 52-acre Kaiser Permanente Hospital and Medical Offices. Working with Anshen + Allen Architects, TA is proud to be part of the team with the shared objectives of creating an outstanding yet inviting Medical Center to serve the Santa Clara, CA community. The facility consists of over 300 beds, 21 operating rooms, a Pediatric Center, 5 pharmacies, 2 lobbies and 2 parking structures. A sky bridge connects the Medical Office Building with the Hospital.

With an interconnected Medical Center, TA's strategies for the acoustical design addressed: speech privacy as required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA); parking garage noise; sound isolation; mechanical noise and vibration control for the central plant and noise from the helipad. Of key concern was lessening the overall noise impact of hospital activities on the local neighborhood.

To lessen the impact of noise from the parking structure, several recommendations were implemented: texturing the floor surface to reduce tire "squeal" noise; moving the staff parking area to below grade; relocating the garage entrance and exits to limit the impact of traffic noise and enclosing the structure to help reduce noise from car doors closing, lock beeps and horns.

To enhance the acoustical environment between birthing suites, examination and hospital rooms, TA looked at sound isolation details including materials used to construct the walls and penetrations through the walls such as ventilation and heating/cooling details. This helps to insure patient privacy during exams to meet HIPAA requirements.

The facility's central plant can have a significant noise impact on the facility as well as the surrounding community. To help lessen this impact, TA reviewed mechanical noise and vibration and sound isolation details. One of the key components was to look at the location of the central plant relative to the rest of the site plan and provide recommendations for the equipment enclosure.

The use of sound absorbing materials for proper room acoustics in lobby and nursing stations gives these areas a warmer, comfortable environment. Noise from the buildings' HVAC systems was controlled to maintain the relaxed atmosphere.

Since this Kaiser facility is not a trauma center, helicopter flights can be scheduled during daytime hours to help keep noise to a minimum. Tyler Rynberg, Senior Acoustical Consultant to the project states, "Several helicopter models were used with varying flight patterns to determine the impact on surrounding residential areas." An assessment for the best helipad location, regulating operating hours as well as controlling the flight path over an already noisy corridor help minimize the helipad's noise impact on the community.

The Medical Center is designed as a pro-active health-care campus incorporating a library and Farmer's Market, healthy eating alternatives in the Cafeteria, play areas for children and tranquil gardens. On land that was once a cherry orchard, Kaiser has continued that theme through color and in the gardens that inhabit all of the structure's four floors. Abundant natural lighting helps create the welcoming and warm environment this Kaiser facility has achieved. Artwork hangs on almost every wall; vibrant colors infuse the décor---there is even wallpaper designed and signed by John Lennon in the Pediatric Center.

The new Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center is now open to serve the community.

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