Sustainability: Case Study: NICU, Methodist Medical Center

By Darius Helm

In 2018, Methodist Mansfield Medical Center in Mansfield, Texas, which already had a full-service maternity center with a Level II Neonatal Center, invested in an expansion and renovation of its existing eight-bed neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), including adding eight private rooms, family amenities, dedicated respiratory and lactation support spaces. Methodist Mansfield brought Perkins + Will on board to design the space.

According to Whitney Hendrickson, a Perkins + Will interior designer tasked with the project, she had been waiting for the right project to use Ecore’s Rx collection since touring a hospital in Pennsylvania that used the product. She adds, “As soon as I walked into that unit-an ICU-it was so eerie because it was unexpectedly quiet. … You could see staff moving around, carts being pushed down the corridors, but I didn’t hear what I normally hear in an ICU. It didn’t feel ‘clinical’ at all, in a good way.”

Hendrickson specified the product not just for the acoustics but also for the underfoot cushioning. Hendrickson was a pediatric nurse before becoming a certified interior designer, so she understood the wear-and-tear hospital work takes on the bodies of its workers. She notes, “Clinicians are wired to put the patient first, so on long shifts, the opportunities for respite are few and far between. I’ll never forget my roots, and what a physical toll your body takes when working at the bedside.”

Hendrickson worked with Perkins + Wills’ Thais Pimentel to specify Strait Rx and Infinity Rx, two heterogeneous sheet products with abstract designs reminiscent of wood, in earth tone colorways. Also, Pimentel specified a subtle curved pattern to both assist with wayfinding and help delineate staff and family areas.

Ecore’s Rx collection uses the firm’s ItsTru technology to fusion bond its recycled rubber backing to sheet goods, with the high-performance acoustical abatement (STC 56 decibels, delta IIC 23 decibels) and cushioning (11.5% force reduction, 72% energy restitution) of the backing elevating the performance of the flooring application.

On top of that, the inclusion of the recycled rubber improves the environmental footprint of the floor. Ecore uses reclaimed truck tires for its products, and the material is technically upcycled, since it’s being turned into a higher value product that also has a much greater lifespan. The total product, including the fusion-bonded sheet on top, has 65% post-consumer recycled content. In addition to being FloorScore certified, the products also come with environmental product declarations and health product declarations. The flooring used for the Methodist Mansfield project diverted 5,897 pounds of tire rubber, equivalent to about 59 tires.

However, it’s the ongoing contribution to health and wellness that will have the biggest impact on those who use the space. Hendrickson adds that she wants to “give these users a floor that’s going to let their body perform like an athlete’s would. These staff members are standing up to 13 hours each day, so if I can’t change their workload, I want to at least help them take better care of themselves-even if they don’t know it!”

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