excerpted from Benefits of Quieter Healthcare Environments by Emily Zentz from the June 2019 issue of Door Security + SafetyMagazine

While commercial door hardware makes up a small portion of a healthcare facility, its impact is significant. As the need for sound reduction gains more awareness, experts suggest there be more emphasis and priority placed on silencing openings through the physical door, gasketing, and ligature resistant hardware. It’s also important to consider a quiet solution approach to these types of environments. Architects cannot control the overhead paging system or beeping machines, but they can help reduce noise by specifying quieter solutions. Select exit devices that are specially designed to be almost undetectable and door closers that prevent slamming.

Consider door handles for patient rooms that have quiet operation and reduce the disturbance of staff entering and leaving the room throughout the day and night. To keep sound in a room and prevent sound from a lobby or back area from seeping in, there are several things to consider such as automatic door bottoms, gravity coordinators and the lock style itself. Automatic door bottoms, which close the gap under the door by sealing to the floor, serve as a reliable barrier for sound when used with proper head and jamb gasketing. The door bottoms can also be adjusted over the life of the door. A small gap in a sound barrier transmits almost as much sound as a larger gap, thus showing us the importance of proper door choice, gasketing and hardware solutions to this increasing issue. For gasketing to be effective at blocking sound, it must be installed all on the same side of the door and frame, and the seals around the head, jamb and sill must be complete, uninterrupted and air-tight throughout the service life of the door.

Gaps caused by imperfect door alignment are a common problem in newly installed gasketing and can also surface later as buildings shift and settle and doors cycle through changes in temperature and humidity. For consistent performance over time, the most advanced gasketing is designed with adjustable features to restore a sound-tight seal when clearances increase for any reason. It’s important to inform clients of the solutions available so the facility can be designed for quiet performance from the start.

Decide if the entire property needs quiet hardware, or just select wings. A survey conducted among specification consultants found that nearly half of their healthcare customers use quiet door hardware today, with approximately 60 percent using these products throughout the entire hospital. Every area benefits from quiet solutions, though some are more sensitive to sounds: • Intensive care units (ICU), critical care units (CCU) • Maternity wards, neonatal intensive care units (NICU) • Recovery areas • Chapels • Offices, administrative rooms and work stations where concentration is important As the architect or owner determines the impact that sound can have on aspects such as learning, hearing, comfort and safety, it is important to select a door, Pemko gasketing and hardware combination to achieve that desired level.

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