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Northwest Medical Center Gains Control Of COVID-19 With Air Innovations IsolationAir® Portable Contamination Control Systems

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Isolation Space



Located in Winfield, Alabama, Northwest Medical Center provides medical care to three counties in a rural region of the state. The new facility replaced the historic Winfield Hospital in 1998 and several specialized services were added since then, including a rehabilitation facility, dialysis center, assisted living center, and surgery division. The hospital is a 71-bed facility that provides care to approximately 2,500 inpatients and 60,000 outpatients annually.

Rural hospitals were particularly hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite steep financial losses, administrators, and medical staff at Northwest Medical Center remained devoted to providing the community with uninterrupted, exceptional medical care. They were able to maintain a high standard of care by investing in Air Innovations’ IsolationAir® Portable Contamination Control Systems to control the spread of the virus.

The Challenge

Prior to the pandemic, Northwest Medical Center was fully equipped to serve a population of 30,000 citizens. When the virus struck the area, it quickly became evident that they did not have the ability to test and treat possible COVID-19 patients safely and quickly. The primary challenge was a lack of adequate space since they had only two rooms in the intensive care unit (ICU) that had been converted into permanent negative pressure spaces. However, if they tested and treated COVID-19 patients in these two rooms, others would not receive the critical care they needed.

Rather than limiting capacity in the ICU, the hospital dedicated two standard patient rooms to test and treat COVID patients utilizing ultraviolet (UV) light and sterilization protocols to control the spread of the virus. Housekeeping turned on a UV light for ten minutes before conducting a complete wall wash to disinfect the rooms after each patient was discharged. The process took long enough that the hospital experienced a bottleneck of people requiring care.

The most obvious solution was to build additional negative pressure rooms to cope with the surge in patients. However, the two rooms required major changes to the existing HVAC system, which was costly. In fact, they had hoped to construct four negative pressure rooms but had to reduce the scope of the initial project to two rooms. They did not have the funds because of the financial burden the hospital was under due to the pandemic. Therefore, it was time for the architects to find an alternate solution.

The Solution

With the money they received through the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, Northwest Medical Center purchased two Air Innovations’ IsolationAir negative & positive pressure systems in the fall of 2020 and a third later in the year. The purpose of these investments was both to safely and efficiently test patients and to dedicate space to treat those requiring a higher level of care from COVID-19. The portable units came with HEPA filtration, UV light sterilization, and a simple ductwork connection to easily create self-contained, negative pressure rooms. As a bonus, these units will also be an asset to the hospital long after the pandemic has ended. For example, these units can also turn any room into a positive pressure room. Positive pressure rooms are a perfect solution for cancer patients, burn victims, and any other immunocompromised patients.

Fast Track Updates for COVID-19 Testing

The first IsolationAir® Contamination Control Systems were utilized in an Emergency Department “Fast Track” area for initial COVID testing. This ward is contained within part of a refurbished 1,500 square foot building and contains three evaluation beds, separated by partitions. When the Fast Track area is unoccupied, it can be used for the initial diagnosis of COVID, for one patient at a time. If known COVID positive patients enter the Emergency Department seeking further evaluation or treatment, they can be admitted to the Fast Track along with the initially diagnosed patient. This relieves standard occupancy rooms in the department for other emergency care.

Since the Fast Track department is located in its own building, the Northwest Medical Center team opted to connect the unit to the building’s HVAC system via a duct in the ceiling.

COVID Treatment Rooms

The other two units were used to transform two standard patient rooms into negative pressure rooms dedicated to treating people sick with COVID. Since the administration wanted to leave no room for error, they opted to modify an existing window in each room to be able to exhaust return air from the unit directly outdoors. Not having to integrate with the massive, existing HVAC system was a welcome option. Since all IsoationAir units are equipped to provide temperature and humidity control, patient comfort is never in question.

The cost-effective solution has meant that Northwest Medical is able to double the number of patients it tests and treats. They are able to turn over the Fast Track testing ward within 15 to 20 minutes, versus the amount of time it took to execute the wall wash protocol. They also finally have adequate facilities to care for the sickest COVID-19 patients, while keeping the two sterile rooms in the ICU devoted to treating non-COVID patients. Overall, the IsolationAir® Portable Contamination Control Systems has enabled the hospital to get a handle on the pandemic in the immediate term, as well as to make a meaningful investment in the future.

IsolationAir meets CDC, AIA, and ASHRAE guidelines.

The Results

Three IsolationAir units achieved the following results at Northwest Medical Center:

  • Enabled a space dedicated to COVID testing
  • Doubled the number of patients it tests and treats for COVID
  • Devoted two rooms to infected patients requiring extended care
  • Relieved pressure on the emergency room unit
  • Provided stable climate control for patient comfort
  • Invested in the post-pandemic future to create either positive or negative pressure rooms

IsolationAir® System Enables Riverside-San Bernardino County Indian Health to Maintain the Highest Standard in Community Care

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IsolationAir® Portable Contamination Control System


Riverside-San Bernardino County Indian Health (RSBCIHI) has been providing comprehensive healthcare to the local Native American population since 1968. The organization comprises seven clinics in two of the largest counties in the United States and is devoted to abiding by the customs of their Indian communities. The mission of RSBCIHI is to promote wellness through early intervention and holistic care.

When COVID-19 descended upon the U.S. in early 2020, the administration scrambled to find a way to safely and efficiently test the local population. RSBCIHI researched options before identifying Air Innovations IsolationAir® Systems as the best way to manage the complex process of controlling the spread of the coronavirus while caring for patients.

The Challenge

RSBCIHI knew they could not bring sick people into the facilities for fear of spreading the virus and jeopardizing the safety of their staff and other patients. Their primary challenge was figuring out how to test and treat the community, so they erected tents outdoors at each of their facilities strictly for COVID purposes. The tents were problematic from the get-go. First, it was impossible to secure proper ventilation in the tents because they were enclosed on all sides and it felt precarious to see patients inside them.

The environment was also problematic. Located in Southern California, the facilities are surrounded by the high and low deserts and nearby mountains which produce extreme heat, cold, and high winds. The volatile climate made providing medical care outdoors nearly impossible.

Lastly, RSBCIHI cares for a population of 18,000, which means a high volume of people were being passed through these unstable tents. Moreover, many of the Native Americans living in the area were vulnerable to the virus due to underlying conditions and other circumstances. At the peak of the virus, they were experiencing a 26-28% positivity rate. During these historically unprecedented times, the large population needed reliable and safe medical care more than ever before.

In the end, the experiment was too cumbersome for both staff and patients to cope with and the team at RSBCIHI sought an alternative. They explored negative pressure rooms used in hospitals to contain infectious diseases, but those solutions cost upwards of $100,000 per room to construct. With seven clinics to consider, that solution was out of reach. A nursing supervisor became aware of portable units that create isolation rooms and their interest was piqued.

The Solution

In the end, RSBCIHI purchased eight Air Innovations IsolationAir® Systems to maintain a sterile room inside each clinic (and one for its eighth facility opening soon). The portable units come with HEPA filtration and UV sterilization. Systems were configured to turn their standard-sized patient rooms into negative pressure environments. The sterile exam rooms were placed near the back of each facility in order to provide a dedicated entrance that is used only by potentially contagious patients and medical personnel.

Creating a Clean Environment

Since COVID-19 is an airborne infection, RSBCIHI needed negative pressure rooms. The air pressure in negative pressure rooms is lower than the pressure outside the space, which prevents aerosols or contaminated particles from leaving the room naturally. With an IsolationAir® infectious disease control unit running in the space, room air is recirculated through the system, filtered, sterilized, and returned to the room environment, creating a safer space for everyone in the room and beyond. Since the air must pass through both HEPA and UVC filtration, it is also safe to return air to a facility’s HVAC.

In addition to creating a clean environment, the IsolationAir units provide strict temperature and humidity control—for patient comfort—since the rooms are cut off from the facility’s climate control system.

What was also appealing to RSBCIHI staff was the ease of use. Once the IsolationAir® Systems were set up and tested, the units simply need to be turned on 30 minutes before the first patient and left on an entire day until 30 minutes after the last appointment. This enables each clinic to care for between 10-16 people per day, with 30-minute breaks between patients. The machine is plugged into an emergency outlet in the event of a power outage and can be operated by anyone.

IsolationAir meets CDC, AIA, and ASHRAE guidelines.

The Results

Seven IsolationAir units achieved the following at each RSBCIHI facility (with one planned for use in a new clinic):

  • Enabled an indoor space dedicated to COVID testing
  • Transformed a standard-size patient room into a negative pressure room
  • Streamlined testing and triage
  • Provided stable climate control for patient comfort
  • No disruption to patient care during potential power outages
  • Invested in the post-pandemic future to create either positive or negative pressure rooms

Explosion Proof HVAC: Mining and Drilling

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The Challenge:

Air Innovations was asked to design a Class I Division I environmental control system (ECU) to cool an electrical cabinet that houses several variable frequency drives for a large centrifuge machine. These drives generate a significant amount of heat that needs to be removed from the cabinet. Centrifuges are typically used to remove slurry during drilling for oil and gas operations.

The Solution:

An explosion-proof system was designed to integrate inside the client’s custom purged electrical cabinet and was able to withstand the harsh environment in which these centrifuges typically operate. The unit was configured to provide once-thru air steady state air to a single LDCS-PRO coater. The ECU was designed for a Class I Division I explosion proof environment.Custom environmental control for mining & drilling

Key performance specifications for this custom explosion proof HVAC system were:

  • Ambient (condenser inlet) range -40°F to +130°F
  • Cabinet control point 85°F +/-5°F, non-condensing environment
  • Airflow range 420-520 CFM
  • Designed for near continuous (not ON/OFF control) operation to ensure a non-condensing environment and to provide thermal stability
  • 2-ton nominal cooling capacity
  • CE approved

Key design considerations for this custom explosion proof HVAC system were:

  • Fit inside the customer’s custom cabinet without interfering with the frequency drives and while allowing appropriate access to service components
  • Integrate and communicate with customer’s control system
  • High reliability as these units are in very challenging environments to provide field service (offshore platforms for example)
  • Class I, Division I ambient
  • Integral phase monitoring and auto switchover
  • Harsh environment; high salt and dust content

The Result:

  1. All design specifications were met.
  2. An explosion-proof system was manufactured to integrate inside a custom purged electrical cabinet, withstanding very harsh environments of high salt and dust, normally encountered in the field.
  3. The system was designed as a Class 1 Division 1 explosion-proof air conditioner that communicates with customer’s control system and has integral phase monitoring and auto switchover.

If you would like to see case studies for other industries, view our general case studies page. We also have whitepapers available covering the aerospace industry, the semiconductor industry, and our Micro Environments product line. These whitepapers can be found here.

Engineering: Custom Temperature Control in Complex Structures

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The Linq High Roller Case Study

The Challenge: Control the temperature in each cabin of the world’s largest observation wheel: Caesars Entertainment’s High Roller observation wheel at the Linq. The High Roller is 550 ft. tall and features 28 cabins, which hold 40 guests apiece. It is expected to operate 18 hours per day, 365 days a year. However, designing the complex HVAC/R systems used for temperature control was daunting considering daytime temperatures average highs of 104°F in July and lows of 39°F in December in Las Vegas. User safety and comfort were top priorities. The solution also had to fit beneath the floor of each glass-encased cabin and conform to the walls of the observation wheel with no square corners.


Custom HVAC in Linq High Roller Cabin

The Solution:  Air Innovations’ temperature control solution includes 2 custom environmental control units (ECUs) in each cabin, with each ECU composed of dual, redundant refrigeration circuits.  Since each circuit operates independently, each environmental control unit has a failsafe should one of the circuits experience a failure. The net result is 4 independent circuits per cabin.

Each temperature control system communicates directly with and can be controlled by the base operation (at the bottom of the wheel). The independence of each circuit coupled with the remote control allows for load-shedding on moderate temperature days. In the highly unlikely scenario that all electrical systems in the cabin shut down, Air Innovations included a fifth cooling failsafe: a battery-operated ventilation fan that provides a level of ambient cooling until that cabin reaches the ground. Each custom environmental control system can also provide heat.

Key Specifications:

  • Design ambient range is 25°F to 108°F (-3°C to 42°C), full sun exposure.
  • Airflow is 1,200 CFM per ECU (2 ECUs per cabin)
  • Internal control range 67°F and 73°F (19°C and 23°C)
  • 4kW electric re-heaters to provide heat on cold days
  • UL listed
Observation wheel cabin

Cabin of High Roller Observation Wheel

Custom ECU for High Roller

Custom Environmental Control Unit for High Roller Wheel

The Result:

  1. All design specifications were met.
  2. Each custom environmental control unit conforms to the convex sides of the mechanical compartment beneath the floor.
  3. The design supports rapid change-out without any access to ductwork or piping connections to the ECU. All access is from above the ECU (not beneath or beside it, which would require more down time). All utilities are connected via a tub and designed on a nesting principal.
  4. The environmental control units for this complex engineering structure incorporate multiple redundancies, supporting both safety and system efficiency.

Why Air Innovations?

Linq High Roller Cabin Interior

Artist’s rendition of the cabin interior in the High Roller

You need a design more specific to your application than just a modified commercial off-the-shelf product.

You’re frustrated with your current vendor’s quality

If you’re ready for a custom solution from Air Innovations, contact us by submitting a quick Project Inquiry or by calling 1-800-835-3268 today.

Custom: Redesign of Personal Environmental Control Console

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Custom replacement for Personal Environments® Fan and Electronics Unit from Johnson Controls

The Challenge:

Develop a replacement circulated fan and electronics unit or “Personal Climate Control Console” integrated into a personal console (advanced office desk) after the original provider discontinued the product. The end product needed to provide cooling or heating, as necessary: Directional cooling was to be provided at varying levels over a broad CFM range via two desk-mounted nozzles so users could personalize both the quantity and direction of cooling. Heating needed to flow through an adjustable nozzle below the work surface via an inline electric heater.

In addition, the original design did not fit the customer’s smallest desks, and they looked to us to find one solution that would fit all their desk sizes and create personal environments for users. That meant designing a system that achieved the customer’s desired results while moving less air than the original design (due to the smaller space).

Download our desktop console management system whitepaper: The Human Factor

The Solution: 

Here are the main specs of the integrated environmental control system we created and prototyped.Custom ecu for desk consoles-compressed

Key Specifications:

  • 0 – 35 CFM above desk surface
  • 0 – 150 W of heating directed below the desk surface combined at 25 CFM airflow
  • Desk-mounted touch screen unit including the following:

o Airflow control for above and below the desk

o Brightness control

o Motion sensor for auto start/stop of the system

  • Filtration similar to original design; advanced filtration is optional
  • Beneath-the-desk mounting and electrical controls
  • Meet UL/CSA standards

The Result:

A happy customer. Here’s why:

1. On-time delivery (3-Phase project; we exceeded deliverables in each phase)

2. Weighs 17% less than the original design (10 lbs vs. 12lbs.)

3. Includes an integral heater (Air Innovations’ design) vs. separate plate heater (original design)

4. Consumer friendly design:

a. Integrated unit with no ductwork (Air Innovations’ solution) vs. the original unit size 14 x 11.5 x 8.5 in. (356 x 292 x 216 mm) with added ductwork that interfered with customers’ legroom (original design)

b. Integrated color touch pad controller (Air Innovations’ solution) vs. slide controls (original design)

c. Easy installation (no ductwork or external heater to attach)

5. Quieter than the original design

** Micro Environments is Patent Pending

If you’re ready for a custom solution from Air Innovations, contact us by submitting a quick Project Inquiry or by calling 1-800-835-3268 today.