Working With Hospitals
On May 22, 2011, five people died and many were injured at St. John’s Hospital in Joplin, Mo., when a vicious tornado struck the town. Flying glass was the main cause of a number of the injuries at the hospital.
Here are four facts related to that incident and other potential ones impacting our nation’s hospitals:
- Flying glass shards from shattered windows are the No. 1 cause of serious injury when a building is struck by a powerful storm or bomb attack. Yet the majority of the country’s hospitals have little or no window protection.
- Hospitals can’t afford the potential repercussions of an unforeseen weather event or terrorist attack that could cause havoc and tragedy. Their role in their community is too vital.
- Hospital patients generally are immobile and thus significantly at risk should the building’s windows shatter.
- Many hospitals have large amounts of exposed glass related to their design.
Seven years later, in Fall 2018, Hurricane Michael struck Florida’s panhandle and the damage to area hospitals and other health care facilities was enormous.
Nine hospitals suffered so much damage they were forced to close. Also, five nursing homes and 15 assisted-care facilities also closed. In each case, patients had to be evacuated to other facilities. Damage to the buildings included destroyed roofs, buckled walls and shattered windows.
Unfortunately, since the St. John’s Hospital tragedy and now Hurricane Michael, few hospitals have acted to protect their windows against tornadoes, hurricanes or terrorist attack by installing shatter resistant window films. Yet for years the federal government, commercial building owners, school districts, museums and galleries, convention centers and airports have been aggressively protecting their windows through the installation of these safety and security window films.
There have been a few exceptions. After a series of hurricanes struck Florida’s east and west coasts in the early 2000s, the University of Florida & Shands Medical Center in Jacksonville hired Commercial Window Shield to install 10,000 square feet of 14-mil clear fragment retention film on 395 windows. The hospital is a critical care center making it difficult to move its patients should a weather disaster strike.
The project was made possible by a Homeland Security grant to the city of Jacksonville. Other hospitals might explore similar methods of securing funds for security window film installation projects to protect their windows.
In addition to protecting hospital windows, another benefit of certain window films is to control solar heat gain and reduce energy costs. This was the motivation for officials at Adventist Health Care Shady Grove Medical Center in Montgomery County, Md., to hire Commercial Window Shield to install solar control film on all the windows in the 305-bed medical center.
Sun rays were causing heat problems for patients and employees located near windows. The solar heat gain also caused problems with the hospital’s HVAC system, which was fooled by the solar heat. After testing various solutions, Commercial Window Shield engineers developed an exterior sun screen solution which reduced the amount of heat coming into the hospital from the sun. Additionally, the medical center’s energy bills declined.
So the question is: When will hospitals finally jump on board and begin protecting their windows – and reduce their energy costs – by installing security and solar control window films?