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  Creating a Child-Friendly Design to Meet Grown-up Expectations

When Cook Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) in Fort Worth, Texas, undertook a $53 million expansion, it chose firms with a reputation for innovation and an appreciation for the importance of creating a child-friendly environment. The team representing the architect, interior designer, builder and hospital faced a dilemma when it came time to select the flooring. The designer’s goal was to use colors and patterns in the flooring to: Appeal to children; Soften the sterile hospital environment; Distinguish one area from another; and Help traffic flow.

However, the team needed a product that met the hospital’s stringent requirements, including: Hygienic surface; Stain resistant; Seamless; Low maintenance; Acoustical dampening; Superior durability; Slip resistant; and be Scuff resistant.

Could the team find a product that offered all of these features without sacrificing the goal of creating a design that would please both the children and the medical staff? Realizing that the vinyl flooring used in the past hadn’t lived up to expectations, project architect Anne Mullins, with FKP Architects, Inc., spent months searching for just the right flooring. When she attended a “lunch and learn” sponsored by Stonhard, Mullins discovered an exciting new product named Stonblend RTZ that offered all of characteristics to make it a winning solution.

The resinous, poured-in-place flooring enabled the team to create large open areas with low maintenance seamless floors that never need waxing.Mullins was determined to create the perfect environment for the children. She arranged for the design team to begin experimenting with colors and patterns. With lower maintenance and at least a 15-year life, RTZ’s durability offered the hospital considerable life-cycle cost savings over traditional vinyl flooring.

Playful, geometric patterns in the flooring appeal to children and meet stringent hospital requirements.But would the product stand up to the rigorous needs of a hospital? Mullins took a sample of RTZ to the CCMC’s environmental services staff and said, “Try to destroy it.” After pouring betadine on the RTZ sample and leaving it for a week, they wiped off the betadine‚ and to their amazement, the flooring was clean. The decision to specify the product was clinched.

The flooring plan included nurses’ stations, corridors, isolation rooms, patient rooms and restrooms. By changing colors and patterns, the flooring could be used to identify hallway intersections, help traffic flow and distinguish one area from another.

The selection of RTZ rather than vinyl posed installation challenges to LINBECK, the project manager and builder. Rebecca Pospisil, project manager for LINBECK, had to resequence the construction schedule to accommodate the casting in place of this seamless, resin-based flooring. Almost a year after installation, Pospisil says the extra effort was worth it. Here’s what she has to say about RTZ’s performance and reliability:

“It’s an exceptional floor to warrant from a project manager/ builder standpoint. If there is a problem with a supplier’s work or product, we are required to provide supervision and scheduling to get the company into the hospital to make repairs. RTZ saves money we would be spending on call backs if a lesser quality material had been specified.”

Designers used patterns and colors in the flooring to create a child friendly design.Barbara Greer, RN, BSN, Director, NICU, Medical Floor sees advantages for her staff. Greer notes: “RTZ is a softer surface and the nurses say it’s easier on their legs and lower back. In addition, the floor looks clean and resists marring and staining. Because RTZ requires less maintenance, there are fewer disruptions to the unit and that means a lot to the staff.”

Greer especially loves the “wow” impact of the colorful design on children and their families.

This new addition to CCMC houses 81 additional beds for children in areas of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Newborn Intensive Care Unit and general medical and surgical areas. Stonhard’s RTZ product was the winning solution to the flooring dilemma. The team achieved its goal to create a childfriendly design that meets grown-up expectations.

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