Norton Sound Regional Hospital
January 2007 – March 2009
Nome, perhaps best known as the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race finish line, is an important lifeline for villages in the remote Bering Strait region. It is not unusual for patients to arrive by snow machine, sled or airplane, accompanied by more than one family member.
The new Norton Sound Regional Hospital replaced a 1950s-era facility to serve nearly 10,000 Alaskans in a 44,000 square mile area. The hospital includes an ambulatory surgical center, labor and delivery service, newborn nursery, and CT unit. Alaska Native culture and traditions are reflected in the delivery of a full spectrum of inpatient and outpatient care and in regional artwork showcased in public areas.
The new facility is three times the size of the former hospital constructed in the 1950s. Along with Quyanna Care Center (the only tribal long-term care center in Alaska), village-based clinics, and village outreach services, the facility offers a complete care network.
The new hospital met the client's goals:
· Provide a modern facility that provides state of the art environment of care
· Contribute to staff satisfaction, retention, and recruitment
· Create a healing environment for patients
· Acknowledge the cultural needs of staff and users
· Respond to the climate using appropriate arctic construction means and methods
· Be respectful of the environment
· Provide a significant amenity to the city of Nome
· Keep the facility design within the construction budget
Extreme climate conditions and permafrost preservation were primary challenges. The mechanical system design includes heating and cooling, steam, domestic hot and cold water, sanitary sewer and vent, storm drainage, medical gas, fuel oil, fire protection, and exhaust. The energy-efficient design allows the hospital to function optimally while using the same amount of energy as a hospital in the lower 48 states, a triumph given the permafrost and highs in the teens four months of the year.
Mechanical systems achieve the maximum efficiency possible, given the strict regulations for health care facilities and climate adaptations. The air distributions system is a combination variable air volume/constant air volume system. The variable air volume portion contributes to increased efficiency by modulating airflow to match room occupancies. Supply and return fans are equipped with variable frequency drives that also respond to occupancy levels, resulting in a more efficient operation. Excess heat is recovered from the exhaust air systems, data closets, and switchgear rooms, and used to preheat incoming outside air for building ventilation.
Refrigerated pilings elevate the structure four feet above a sandwich of structural fill, insulation, and geotextile fabric more than 10 feet deep. A refrigeration system extends at least 25 feet below the surface to preserve the permafrost. Arctic conditions (exceeding 45 degrees below zero) required bolstering of the building envelope and freeze protection for all piping, vents, and fuel oil system components. Infiltration of wind and snow is minimized with a deep overhang from the mechanical penthouse roof and a mechanical system that maintains a positive pressure. Complete system redundancy and spare parts stocking provides staff with confidence that health care operations and patient safety will be maintained, even during maintenance procedures or a power outage.