Personal care homes and health care clinics often need to expand as the numbers of patients they treat begin to significantly increase. Whether you're outfitting a new facility or adding on to your present location, stay up to code for clinics and care homes by following all recommended National Electrical Code (NEC) standards for your type of facility.
Here are some tips to stay current:
Know the difference between "A" and "B" rooms.
On your facility plans, very clearly mark rooms that will house sleeping patients or critical care equipment as "A" rooms. Then mark all other rooms, including offices, storage, and dining rooms, as "B" rooms.
Rooms on the A list will require hospital grade receptacles, which are designed to be very difficult to accidentally unplug. These special plugs are also necessary to complete an adequate ground on certain medical-grade equipment.
Examining rooms, treatment rooms, visiting rooms, and employee break rooms do not require any special wiring. However, to keep your facility flexible, you may want to install higher-grade wiring and receptacles. This gives you the option to change non-patient rooms into patient care rooms in the future without having to rewire them.
Ground-fault current paths are required in patient rooms.
Every branch circuit that serves a patient area must have its own separate ground-fault current path. This wiring feat takes skill, because the circuits must be installed in either a metallic raceway or a cable that qualifies as grounding equipment due to its outer covering.
You need to be certain you hire a qualified electrical contractor for this work, since they must use very specific types of wire and connectors to complete these circuits. You will also want your contractor to explain any special care you must take with electrical equipment around oxygen tanks and other gases.
Work with your electrical contractor on disaster plans.
Your facility will need emergency backup in case of power outages. Your electrical contractor will explain your options, and they can wire in your generator or other alternative power source so that the load is automatically transferred to your emergency system when standard power is interrupted for any reason.
Be sure to coordinate emergency plans so that other fuel sources, such as gas or propane, are not close to any spark-prone areas. Vital services that remain available must be monitored for any hazardous conditions including leaks or line blockages during electrical outages.
An electrical contractor is an invaluable resource as your patient care business grows. Consult with them as part of your facilities team.