The Stormont-Vail Surgical Suite Addition is a multi-story complex that was completed in July of 2003, and features 18 new operating rooms, two minor surgical facilities, and a 21-bed surgical recovery unit. The hospital and designers wanted a state-of-the-art facility that would provide an excellent working environment and accommodate future technology as well. As a result, these spacious surgical suites range from 550 to 800 square feet.

When The Stormont-Vail Regional Hospital system began the planning for this new 156,000 square foot addition, they had identified a variety of important issues that would need to be addressed.

  • A microbiologically clean, pressurized environment was critical.
  • It was important that the surgical team was comfortable.
  • Above ceiling access for current and future needs had been an issue in the past and would need to be resolved for this expansion.
  • The ability to clean and maintain the system was a key consideration.

The hospital enlisted the expertise of Matt Jennings, a project Architect with HMN Architects, and Design Engineers Dave Krug and Jeff Romine, with the firm of Brack and Associates in Topeka, Kansas.


When Brack and Associates began the mechanical design that would ventilate the operating rooms, they already knew which technology they would deploy – central laminar flow diffusers. This approach has been fairly common in the past, but does require a significant number of laminar units in the ceiling to meet the stringent ventilation requirements of operating rooms.

As an alternative, Jeff Romine had requested information on the Price Hospital Operating Room Diffuser system (HORD). This perimeter curtain with laminar flow design concept, which is supported by the Price Model HORD – Hospital Operating Room Diffuser system, provides an exceptionally clean environment that encompasses the surgical field.

Low velocity laminar air washes the patient and surgical team, while an angular projection of higher velocity air creates a perimeter curtain that prevents migration into the sterile field and captures any contaminants that may have entered with the team or equipment.

The HORD system also reduces the number of laminar flow units that are required directly above the surgical team, making additional ceiling space available for other equipment and fixtures. The decision was made to utilize the HORD system.


Early on, Matt Jennings, Jeff Romine, and Brad Hutton, the Project Manager for McElroys, Inc., Mechanical Contractors, recognized the logistical challenge of coordinating the installation of the diffuser system with other equipment and ceiling components.

Of further concern was the execution of the many openings that would be required in the drywall ceiling, and the fact that this approach would not provide the desired flexibility for future modifications or easy access to the plenum above.

Working with drywall can be messy, and any changes or modifications would result in closing the room for an extended period of time. Ceiling access was also an issue for the hospital, since they wanted flexibility for future upgrades in surgical technology.

These upgrades could involve emerging technologies such as robotics that might require significant changes above the ceiling to accommodate new fixtures, wiring, and other components.

In fact, the project team visited other medical facilities to determine how they dealt with the flexibility issue. They received various recommendations – some fairly amusing. They were told to install an interstitial space with a catwalk above the ceiling, or hire someone small enough to fit in the space. More radical suggestions included using a crossbow or radio controlled vehicle to relocate or install wiring.

Following a number of discussions with sales engineers Tom Wilkerson and RD Arnold with Jorban - Riscoe & Associates, the local Price representative, the group was delighted to learn that Price could also provide a ceiling system that would easily integrate with the HORD diffuser system.

The Price Unitee CR Cleanroom gasketed ceiling was appealing because the system provides a high integrity ceiling membrane with extruded aluminum structural members and aluminum lay-in panels that are held in compression against a non-degrading vinyl seal. Engineered for ease of installation, ceiling members assemble with a patented fastening technology that eliminates the need for welding and bolts. In addition, clip in panels provide flexibility, and easy access to the ceiling plenum. The Unitee system was proposed to Matt Jennings, the project architect.

Matt Jennings was understandably concerned about the shift to an alternate ceiling system. Drywall, although more difficult to work with, is a proven membrane that is stable and prevents infiltration. After a thorough evaluation the Unitee CR Cleanroom gasketed ceiling system was selected as the ceiling system that would accompany the HORD systems in these operating theatres.

To ensure proper fit up, Price provided a team of experts to take on-site measurements, generate drawings and installation guidelines, and assist in determining system requirements. As the time neared for installation, the involved parties determined that good coordination between the mechanical contractor and the ceiling installer would be extremely important.

The Result

The installation went very well, with the expertise of McElroy’s and Bob Florence Contractors, overcoming the few challenges that were encountered. In retrospect, all acknowledged that the ease of installation helped them to meet an otherwise aggressive completion schedule. Nick Reilly, Project Manager, and Jim Webb, Installer for Bob Florence Contractors, found the Unitee CR Ceiling to be amazingly strong and robust. Even large 48" x 48" ceiling panels that had openings cut into them maintained structural integrity.

The new addition has been occupied since July, and according to Dean Smith, Facility Manager for Stormont Vail, all are satisfied with the performance of the system. The Unitee CR Ceiling gasketed system has proven to be effective in maintaining room pressurization and preventing infiltration. The HORD is functioning well as it provides a clean and comfortable environment for the patient and surgical staff. Both elements of the system are easy to clean and maintain.

The decision makers at Stormont Vail told us that they would again consider the Unitee CR system for cleanrooms, cath labs, procedure rooms, and other environments where a clean area and easy access are required.

Stormont-Vail and this project design team have taken a progressive approach and are setting the standard for integrated ventilation solutions in critical environments. Price is proud to have been a part of the Stormont-Vail Suite Surgical addition.

Design Team Profile

Brack & Associates Consulting Engineers, P.A.

Founded in 1984, this firm is staffed by approximately 20 employees in Topeka, Kansas. Recognized for their attention to detail, on-time completion, accurate construction documents, and strong client/design team focus, Brack & Associates has experienced constant growth over the past 25 years.

Their current clientele base is over 90 percent repeat clients and their projects include hospitals, medical facilities, research laboratories, higher education, corporate, and institutional facilities located in the Midwest. Their work portfolio also includes design of central plant / pumping systems, HVAC, emergency power systems, building control, and energy management system improvements providing cost effective energy efficient systems.

HMN Architects

HMN Architects is a 60-person architectural firm headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas with offices in Springfield, Missouri and Kansas City, Missouri. Founded in 1990, they provide quality, full-service architectural and interior design services, specializing in health care, research facilities, corrections and higher education.

HMN's mission is to deliver the highest level of service and to contribute to their clients' successes through superior design and project execution, and by maintaining and developing superb talent that thrives on compassion, collaboration and deep immersion in their clients' worlds. Based on this philosophy, HMN enjoys a 90% repeat client ratio.