Case study: Changing the continuum of mental health services

Via a public-private partnership, a Saskatchewan mental health facility was upgraded using integrated solutions.

By Salvatore Bonetto Jr., RCDD, EIT, CDT; Theodore Fowler, PE, PEng, CannonDesign September 18, 2018

Figure 2: Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford, a 440,000-sq-ft mental health facility, has multiple patient wings and support facilities designed to support both clinical and correctional facility clients.CannonDesign was retained to assist the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health and Prairie North Health Region in Canada with the evolution and replacement of the 100-year old Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford, the province’s primary tertiary mental health facility. The 440,000-sq-ft facility has multiple patient wings and support facilities designed to support both clinical and correctional facility clients.

This public-private partnership (P3) project was an ideal situation for developing integrated solutions to assist the hospital, the contractor, and the architecture team in developing performance-based opportunities on multiple levels. Due to the nature of the P3 arrangement, the developer is responsible for meeting all specification requirements developed by the design team and also is accountable for maintenance and operational costs for 30 years while renting the facility back to the government. This incentive provided a path to innovation with a look at substantial future maintenance savings.

As project design began, the stakeholders focused on the primary low-voltage systems that are integral to corrections/mental health facilities. It was decided early on that three solutions would function as the information transport and life safety systems for the building:

  • A high-bandwidth structured cabling system would support the Internet Protocol (IP)-based systems.
  • An 802.11ac wireless network would support wireless features.
  • A distributed antenna system would support radio-frequency-based systems.

Each system solution was required to operate on a minimum of one backbone and listed in an integration matrix. The designers were challenged with determining cross-platform equipment that could work universally with other systems or devices to reduce equipment costs and improve system redundancy.

The facility has a central command center with backup servers for reporting of clinical, security, and facility-related alarms. A secure staff conference room doubles as an emergency operations center. Exterior cameras and sensors protect against infiltration or unauthorized egress of the facility.

An interactive workstation is located at each nurse station to monitor the wings’ access (doors and sally ports), intrusion-detection alarm points, fire alarm, and lighting controls in an aesthetic yet hardened clinical environment. The video surveillance system also is integrated to display automated camera views associated with individual alarms.

An intuitive menu solution provides overrides of individual client rooms, patient congregation areas (i.e., exterior courtyard), and entire wings in preprogrammed automatic systems. Nurse call bed sensors and bathroom-water control also are integrated into the system. Intercoms are included to provide backup two-way communication between the wings. Emergency mass notifications are distributed to client education/entertainment systems using discrete or precoded messages to staff during events.

Wireless solutions include a real-time locating system (RTLS) for tracking of staff, patients, and equipment with Bluetooth beacons for improved point triangulation with wireless access points. Wireless staff and nurse call communications integrate with the voice over internet protocol (VoIP) telephone systems to increase accessibility and the response time of staff.

The facility’s building management system (BMS) includes integration of temperature control with IP-enabled components, lighting control, electric-metering systems, and an associated cogeneration-plant activation for enhanced energy savings.

All the systems are tied to an information management integration engine with password-protected subsets for the BMS, clinical, and operational reporting. Firewalls are used to prevent unauthorized access.

Salvatore Bonetto is a vice president at CannonDesign. His expertise in technology design includes innovative strategies customized to achieve specific client goals.

Theodore Fowler is an electrical engineering principal at CannonDesign. He has served on the CannonDesign board of directors and as the engineering operations leader and engineering quality leader.