Posted by Mary Pat Finn

Free Standing Centers require unique attention to design.

A hyperbaric clinic

has special Building Services Requirements,  referred to as BSR’s.  A common question often posed is “why is a free-standing hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) clinic held  to the same facility guidelines as a hospital-based clinic”.  Understanding the ins and outs of any hyperbaric clinic requires a fundamental understanding of the type of device that is to be installed.  BSR’s are based on device type and not physical plant alone.   A private HBO facility must undertake all the life safety requirements needed to ensure the local building codes, PVHO HBO facility guidelines,  and patent access issues are considered.

A free-standing hyperbaric oxygen clinic is a clinic which is based or located in a private medical office or private enterprise clinic.   A free-standing clinic is not part of a medical center, it is not hospital based,  it functions as an independent business entity.  As such, a

free-standing HBO clinic

typically has a small quantity of staff and the initial planning, design and build for the HBO clinic falls on a small number of individuals.  So, it is incumbent on the owner to seek experts in HBO facility design, code compliance and high-pressure oxygen system design.

Given that most of the free-standing HBO locations will utilize mono place hyperbaric equipment, the planning and construction phase will follow the guidelines for  Class B medical devices.  These medical devices must be installed in accordance with the guidelines for the type of device. All Class B hyperbaric devices have BSR’s which provide the architectural requirements from plumbing, grounding, lighting, HVAC, equipment dimensions and all requirements for proper facility design to connect equipment. Thus, proper planning and organization, and recognition of these requirements, will allow identification of the proper resources needed to complete the work to begin the construction phase of a free-standing HBO clinic.

What makes Free Standing HBO Clinics Unique:

  • Small Size
  • Limited Staff
  • Lack of Facilities Personnel or Bio Med Departments
  • Budget Constraints
  • Unique Referral System

The planning of a free-standing clinic first and foremost must take into consideration patient accessibility, parking,  load/unload area for patient transport vehicles, and fire suppression requirements.   Recommendations on evaluating a free-standing site are: walk the perimeter of the building and first evaluate the exterior  bulk or Dewar’s oxygen tank placement, consider distance for patients to walk to facility, is there a covered area for patients to unload and what type of fire suppression does the building presently have installed.  These are important considerations and for small private facilities may impose additional expense to the overall start up budget.  When performing these essential evaluations,  it becomes easier to compare construction costs from one facility to another as planning begins.

HBO Free Standing Facility Guidelines

  • NFPA 99
  • Local Fire Inspection
  • Plumbing Inspection
  • Design Requirements of the OEM
  • Local Building Code Requirements
  • Permit for Oxygen System Design
  • Life Safety Requirements based on facility type

Due to the uniqueness of the smaller size of operation of a free standing HBO clinic, it is vitally important to seek subject matter experts on billing and coding, provider contracting,  medical records preparation and security, medical experts for referrals such as endocrinology, infectious disease, neurology, registered dieticians, x-ray and lab services.   Since a free-standing facility will typically utilize one or two HBO physicians, they will need to seek additional medical expertise and will need a network of colleagues. In addition to medical expertise, planning should take place to build strong connections to social services locally, such as elder services, transportation services and other needed services with the local health department.  No matter the planned size of the clinic,  proper identification of both medical and social resources is key to proper triaging of patients within the facility as well as for aftercare and associated necessary patient services not found in the facility.

Recommend steps to begin the process of planning your free-standing hyperbaric center.

Identify a proper location that complies with the build out requirements for oxygen safety. Perhaps help is needed  to locate proper real estate through a realtor or other construction professional.  Hyperbaric clinics require certain types of buildings that can be modified or built to follow NFPA codes.

Priority Items:

  • Site Visit to multiple properties to eval best options
  • Building Evaluation: Construction type/parking/access for HBO unit deliveries/Square Footage
  • Floor Layout Options
  • HBO Oxygen System Design
  • Fire Suppression Needs

Work Your Plan:  

  • Design a sample floor plan schematic             *Walk your space & determine 02 System
  • Check fire protection compliance needs         *Establish code enforcement plan
  • Prepare a budget                                                *Hire & Train Staff
  • Establish hyperbaric room layout                    *Decide on # of chambers
  • Identify Target Market                                       *Arrange staff training of 40 Hour HBO Course
  • Hyperbaric Marketing                                        *Create Policy and Procedures