Medical Air Technology (MAT) has designed and installed a new radiopharmacy suite as part of the major 3Ts (Teaching, Trauma, and Tertiary care) redevelopment at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.
The company, which says it has worked with on ‘some of the UK’s most prestigious’ healthcare and research facilities, won the tender and delivered the new suite within the Nuclear Medicine department, working under main contractor, Laing O’Rourke. The 160 m2 facility is located in the Louisa Martindale Building, the first and largest stage of the 3Ts redevelopment, and reportedly the newest NHS clinical building in England. MAT started on site in December 2020, with handover taking place on time in February this year.
The hospital, operated by University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, wished to bring a wide range of services under the same roof, simplifying the patient journey, and improving the hospital experience. In addition to the new radiopharmacy, the Louisa Martindale Building will house outpatient and inpatient services, Critical Care, Neurosciences, and a new stroke unit across its eleven floors. Work is being undertaken in three stages to ensure all the hospital’s clinical services can continue to run on site during construction.
MAT designed the radiopharmacy suite in a turnkey project in close consultation with the Trust. Its work involved designing and installing air-handling units, building management system controls, an environmental monitoring system, interlocking automated door systems, an isolator extract, and ductwork. The airflow design facilitates cascading pressure, which ensures that the most stringent cleanroom zone has the highest level of pressure, and the least stringent cleanroom zone the lowest; this means that the flow of contamination is ‘from clean to less clean’.
Pressure monitoring panels in the lobby show that room pressures are correct, and can be easily checked by the laboratory manager, with the EMS harnesses user-friendly graphics to indicate room status. From the main lobby, the suite divides into two distinct areas:
- A ‘hot lab’ for the delivery, storage, and preparation, of the radioactive materials required for diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy, specifically Technetium.
- A cleanroom for blood cell labelling, used to diagnose or treat illness.
Each area has five rooms, accessed via automatic, access-controlled glass doors: an outer support room, an outer change room, an inner support room, an inner change room, and a cleanroom.
HEPA-filtered pass-through hatches provide a safe and easy way to transfer products and materials between cleanrooms and adjacent non-sterile areas, while vision panels in each wall provide an additional layer of safety, allowing constant visual monitoring from the first to the last room in each suite. In addition, an intercom system allows contact to each room.
Emergency stop buttons can switch off the associated air-handling unit if there a spill, ensuring that toxic elements are not ventilated further throughout the hospital and locale. In addition, one room on each side of the suite has an escape panel with a rubber seal that can be ripped off in the event of a fire to provide an emergency exit route.
Throughout the build, many different partners were working simultaneously in the Louisa Martindale Building, making coordinating all services within the building a challenge for the MAT installation team. Proactive project management, however, ensured there were no significant delays to the schedule.
The air-handling plants that MAT installed are on basement level 2, and the radiopharmacy suite on level 2. Mechanical and electrical coordination was thus unusually complex, as it crossed different fire containment zones, necessitating close liaison on drawings between all contractors. Helen-Marie Cripps, Radiopharmacy Product manager, 3Ts, said: “I found the MAT team to be responsive, and any issues were dealt with quickly. I would certainly use them again.”