Project Highlight: Kaiser Santa Clara Medical Center

The new Kaiser Permanente Hospital and Medical Offices in Santa Clara, CA recently opened on a 52-acre campus. The facility is equipped with leading edge technology yet designed with a warm, inviting environment. The hospital campus is home for a weekly Farmer’s Market, classes in healthcare, beautiful gardens and play areas for children.

The facility consists of over 300 beds, 21 operating rooms, a Pediatric Center, 5 pharmacies and 2 lobbies. A connecting sky bridge joins the medical office building with the hospital. Two parking structures flank the buildings and a helipad is located near the hospital, near ground level.

TA’s strategies for the acoustical design addressed: speech privacy as required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA); parking garage noise; sound isolation; mechanical noise and vibration control for the central plant; noise abatement for the cooling towers and noise from the helipad.

The hospital’s main focus was to diminish the overall noise impact of hospital activities on the surrounding neighborhood—a challenge for the previously unassuming cherry orchard morphed into a state-of-the-art hospital.

To enhance the acoustical environment between birthing suites, examination and hospital rooms, TA looked at sound isolation details including materials used to construct the walls and penetrations through the walls such as ventilation and heating/cooling details. This helps to insure patient privacy during exams to meet HIPAA requirements.

To lessen the impact of noise from the parking structure, several recommendations were implemented: texturing the floor surface to reduce tire “squeal” noise; moving the staff parking area to below grade; relocating the garage entrance and exits to limit the impact of traffic noise and enclosing the structure to help reduce noise from car doors closing, lock beeps and horns.

A facility’s cooling towers can have a significant noise impact on the facility as well as the surrounding community. To help minimize this impact, TA recommended a 20-foot wall of absorptive materials to enclose the three towers.

The helipad noise was relegated to already noisy corridors. Flight paths follow local freeways as much as possible rather than over residential areas. The helicopters also only operate during normal business hours.

From parking structures to helipad to birthing suites, TA’s acoustical recommendations have proven successfully implemented and the new Kaiser Medical Center now serves its members in the Santa Clara Community–as quietly as possible.