Healthcare facilities have very specific needs and require floorcoverings that can withstand heavy foot traffic, while still offering a touch of beauty and comfort.
The perception of a government hospital often lends itself to negative connotations, conjuring up images of a poorly maintained facility unable to service the needs of the greater community at large. For these and many more reasons, medical aids flourish in order to soothe such concerns that individuals may have when it comes to their health needs.
To receive medical care is a right, not a luxury, which is why it is absolutely critical that all hospitals, be they government or private, are equal in terms of service and infrastructure. With this belief in mind, FloorworX set out not only to deliver on the needs of Brits Hospital’s flooring installation, but to excel beyond expectation in terms of product quality and service.
According to James Mabaso, Key Account Manager at FloorworX, the conceptual stage of this new installation commenced after The Department of Health in the North West expressed a serious need for Brits hospital to be revamped. However, this posed the question, “If one ward has to be broken down, and then another, this may lead to a chain reaction – so, to prevent the hospital revamp from moving backwards, would’nt it be best to demolish the entire hospital and build a new one?” This is how the concept of a new and significantly upgraded government hospital came to be.
“FloorworX became aware of this project long before other professionals such as architects and quantity surveyors, simply because of the relationships that we have formed with government over several years,” highlights James. “Relationship building is key in order to stay updated and informed on ideas or developments planned for the future. However, as with any project, FloorworX had to go to tender, and from there we were awarded the project based on our product and service offerings and solutions.”
Alex Pugh, Regional Sales Manager, Inland, at FloorworX adds that once the tender had been awarded to them, an architect and professional team were selected for a specific job on the project. FloorworX already had a long-standing relationship with the architect selected for the Brits hospital project, Jos Vancraybex, who has previously worked on community centres with James. After the architect was selected, FloorworX then went ahead with a solution-offering proposal.
“FloorworX presented its vast product range to the Department of Health and The Department of Public Works and Construction, and they approved the use of products that would meet the flooring needs of Brits hospital,” explains James. “Thereafter, we approached Jos and presented to him what we presented to the client. One always needs to ask the question, “What does the client need?” In this case, the client needed to save money, but not on an inferior product. If private hospitals are able to build state-of-the-art facilities, then why can’t government hospitals? That is when the decision was taken as to the most suitable products for this project.”
According to Alex, architect Jos communicated that he was looking for a floor that could withstand high traffic. “And there is really only one product for that: *Nora rubber floorcoverings,” notes Alex. “Jos wanted a product that could be installed in all high-traffic areas that could withstand exposure, a product that was stable, easy to clean, didn’t require a coating, and has a vast colour palette, not to mention strong acoustic properties. Furthermore, the Nora range is softer underfoot when compared to several other floorcoverings, especially in an environment where staff members and medical specialists have to spend hours on their feet.”
Nora systems are imported from Germany, where they have been manufacturing floorcoverings, stair treads, and accessories made of rubber for more than 70 years. One of its key applications is healthcare and it offers the potential to implement integral design concepts with different functional properties in an entire hospital, with the option of more than 300 colours, designs and surfaces in the standard range.
Alex notes that 485m² of Norament 926 Grano Stairtreads were installed in fire escapes and main entrance staircases, while 146m² of Noraplan Acoustic, colour 2959 was installed in Physiotherapy rooms and lastly 4 200m² of Noraplan Signa, in various colours, were installed in all critical and high-traffic areas.
Normanent 926 Grano is a rubber floorcovering for extremely high-traffic areas, with a hammerblow surface and scatter design. It is also slip-resistant and doesn’t give off any toxic gases should there be a fire. In turn, Noraplan Acoustic floorcovering offers a shock-absorbing foam back and reduces impact forces. Noraplan Signa has a changing base colour of three harmoniously matched colour components and characteristic granule inclusions and is specifically designed for healthcare.
“The unique patterns as specified by the designer were actually cut out by hand by the flooring contractor, Steve Johnson from Flooring Dimensions,” enthuses Alex. “The design patterns are created by using the same product but just incorporating different colours.”
This unique stamp of individuality, achieved by Steve, demonstrates FloorworX’s absolute passion for this flooring project, and how they were driven to put quality and excellence into this project throughout the entire duration of the flooring installation. “It was the first time FloorworX used Nora products,” says Steve. “FloorworX even went as far as to invite a technical expert from Germany to come and offer onsite training in order to get the project started and successfully completed. FloorworX’s technical support is phenomenal and nobody ever needs to be wary of installing this new product – not with a Technical Department such as FloorworX’s.”
Steve continues by saying that they initially found the welding of the Noraplan a challenge, but after special tools were supplied by FloorworX, it was quickly resolved. “Cutting the patterns by hand was by no means an easy task,” explains Steve. “The architects supplied me with the exact dimensions of the patterns, and I can proudly state that this was the first time in South Africa that the Norament stair system was used. It’s an all-in-one system that works extremely well and will undoubtedly continue to make its mark in the industry.”
The Nora sytem is considered a premium product and as such has an excellent lifecycle cost. “If one were to sketch a graph, then the costing may at first appear to be high from a price point of view but, in the long run, maintenance costs remain constant,” explains Alex. “Often, floors are the last products to be installed, so when it comes to cutting budget, it usually comes down to cutting the budget of the floor, which is incorrect. A floor has to withstand significant exposure in a building, therefore it is not advisable to opt for substandard products, especially in a hospital. However, this range requires such low maintenance (needing only water to clean) that savings are drastically increased long-term.”
James adds that installing an inferior product only leads to the refurbishment or replacement of a floor much sooner, which will cost even more, while at the same time disrupting the functioning of a hospital when wards have to be closed and patients can’t be treated.
“The products installed at Brits hospital may be considered premium products, but one is giving this back to the community,” notes James. “The community also needs to be proud of their infrastructure and if one builds something that is effective and beautiful, people will invariably take care of it.”
Both James and Alex concur that Brits Hospital’s flooring installation is a benchmark for government hospitals in South Africa, and it is their hope and desire that this benchmark is carried through on a national level.
*Nora is a Registered Trademark