Nicklaus Children’s Hospital’s Fetal Care Center opened the doors to its special delivery unit for high-risk infants on June 3, 2019. This specialized birthing unit in Coral Terrace, Florida, is one of only a few in the entire United States that serves healthy mothers expecting to deliver babies with severe pre-diagnosed health issues such as heart defects, neurological conditions, craniofacial anomalies, and other conditions that require immediate pediatric care once they are born. The new unit allows families to stay together from birth through the infant’s care.
As a teaching hospital ranked amongst the best children’s hospitals in the nation by US News & World Report, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital is a level 1 pediatric trauma center committed to delivering the highest quality care to the children and families they serve. The quality care commitment meant that before building the Center, its executives would visit every fetal care center in the country to learn what was working for them and what wasn’t.
The hospital hired the innovative firm NBBJ in Columbus, Ohio, to design the 10-bed maternity unit project. Designers Liz Loxterkamp, Alison Rock, and Edwin Beltran faced several challenges while devising a plan to meet the renovated space requirements within the hospital’s main building. Sustainability was important, but the top priority was to select materials that would not further compromise the health of newly born infants. The design team focused on choosing materials that comply with the highest standards for healthcare, such as low VOC and no VOC products.
One of the team's first challenges was creating an adult environment amid a facility solely devoted to children while maintaining the Nicklaus brand aesthetic. To solve this challenge, they took a cue from the residential neighborhood at the edge of the Coral Gables community of Miami, Florida, where the hospital is located. Coral Gables is “The City Beautiful” that blends lush tree-lined avenues, warm-hued colors, and the Mediterranean Revival architectural style. The designers also drew inspiration from spa environments and developed a theme to create a calm and soothing ambiance.
The flooring was only a nominal percentage of the hospital’s construction budget, but it became the central design element because it would significantly impact the outcome. The team agreed that they would choose a wood look to fit the warm and inviting aesthetic they were seeking. Deciding on the type of floor covering would become their next obstacle.
While stakeholders admired the look of Purline and that it had not just low, but no VOCs, the environmental services (EVS) team expressed concern about the cleanability of the unfamiliar flooring material. EVS had experience maintaining rubber flooring and sheet vinyl installed in other areas of the hospital and urged the designers to select one of those products instead. The design team proposed that they perform a test installation with 8’ x 8’ sections of each of the three flooring types in the well-traveled maintenance corridors. After two months of use and standard maintenance, Purline outperformed the other materials, and the test convinced the EVS crew that it was the best choice.
All stakeholders were pleased with the installation of Purline Pacific Oak with the White Stars pattern as accents throughout the specialized delivery unit, including five labor and delivery rooms, five antepartum rooms, and two operating rooms. In addition to ease of maintenance that doesn’t require stripping, waxing, or harsh chemicals, low VOCs, and achieving the spa-like aesthetic, Purline is truly sustainable. It is Cradle to Cradle Silver certified and conforms to Health Care Without Harm’s Healthy Flooring criteria.