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In late 2019 and early 2020, Sydney, and many other parts of Australia were dealing with a bushfire crisis that had covered parts of the country in smoke.
It was during this period, that our Health Facilities Management team were working with their client Healthscope, to develop a system to modify internal air systems to minimise smoke inside the Northern Beaches Hospital, in Sydney.
Little did the team know that the skills and experience developed during this time would again be called on during another national crisis.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our team at the Northern Beaches Hospital have developed and implemented a number of initiatives aimed at ensuring the hospital is in the best position to service the local community throughout the crisis.
These initiatives have included technical modifications to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in wards at the hospital to restrict the recirculation of air and exhaust 100% of it into the atmosphere.
“The underlying principle utilised for this initiative is the same as the one used by the team to deal with excessive smoke conditions during recent bushfires,” said Gary Dring, National Sector Manager – Health and Education for Ventia.
Additionally, they have converted two operating rooms to negative pressure environments for COVID-19 cases as part of the hospital’s overall plan to dealing with the pandemic.
If the technical aspects of the job weren’t challenge enough, the team was also tested when assisting Healthscope to stand-up a COVID-19 community support clinic at the hospital within a 24-hour window.
The clinic was designed to test community members presenting with COVID-19 symptoms, away from other parts of the hospital. It was established on the perimeter of the building adjacent to the emergency department in an area that could provide isolation from the general hospital and provide a dedicated drive-through capability.
In order to stand-up the clinic in such a short time frame, Ventia worked closely with clinicians and our specialist HVAC provider to rapidly deliver an environment that met the hospital’s needs.
“Typically, this air supply in these areas would be a mixture of 50 per cent fresh air and 50 per cent recirculated air,” Gary said.
“The Ventia technical team evaluated the options for limiting air recirculation throughout the emergency department that housed the clinic. Utilising the building management system they were able to control the air supply to ensure it was 100% fresh air that was then exhausted to the atmosphere.”
Whilst the work is being conducted during an unprecedented time, Gary said that it was because of our partnership with Healthscope and our deep sector experience that Ventia has been able to respond to the current crisis.
“We work hard to develop a partnership with our clients where we can understand their needs and work together closely to develop solutions,” he said.
“I’m really proud of the way the team has approached this situation and put their best foot forward to not only support our client, but also the wider community.”