Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hospital or Business?

Virginia pro-life advocates are overjoyed at the passage of a legislation that allows the state’s abortion clinics to be regulated like a hospital rather than a physician’s office. Read complete story at the Christian Post.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) classifies general offices, doctors offices, and outpatient clinics as business occupancies (101:3.3.168.3*).

Business occupancy fire/life safety requirements are relatively simple.  The regulations include basic exit signage/emergency lighting, typically no sprinkler coverage is required, and often times, the size of these spaces lets them have only one exit access. 

Health care occupancies, per NFPA 101:3.3.168.7, include hospitals, limited care facilities, and nursing homes. These have many stricter codes/standards/regulations that must be adhered to.

According to the NFPA these existing facilities, would have to be brought up to the health care facilities standards, and meet all new minimum construction requirements, as this change would constitute a change of occupancy (101:18.1.1.4.2).  Changes to be anticipated will include:
  • Arrangement of doors, exits, and corridors would potentially need to change.
  • Fire alarms will be required (101:18.3.4)
  • Fire sprinkler protection required (101:18.3.5)
  • Separation between other occupancies may need to be increased
  • Facility fire safety plan will be required (to be reviewed/approved annually)
These regulations just scratch the surface.  As a health care facility many other agencies will now be involved (federal/state/local departments of health, and hospital regulatory agencies, etc.), each with there own set of standards that must be met. Health care facilities will also be required to meet the provisions of NFPA 99  Standard for Health Care Facilities.

What other codes/standards will apply?  How would this change affect your state? How would this change affect your local jurisdiction?