Tandem Mental Health Associates provides therapy and counseling services to individuals, families, couples and groups. Patient confidentiality is a key component that directly affects a patient’s comfort level. Conversations heard from an adjacent office are not only distracting but proof that your discussion may be overheard by others. In this case, a corner office is at the intersection of two other therapy rooms. The therapists could hear conversations from each of the other rooms.
During therapy sessions, sound levels in the room tend escalate as patients express emotions. Sound was passing from the corner office into the two adjoining spaces, disrupting staff and other sessions. As a temporary measure, the client attempted to mask the conversations with a white noise machine and a radio, with less than satisfactory results.
Acoustical Solutions was called out to examine the situation and offer their advice and expertise. Upon inspection, between one shared wall, the partition wall was not built up to the roof deck. This allowed sound to flank over the shared wall, through the ceiling grid and back down into the adjoining office. The other shared wall was built to the roof deck; however, it was not properly sealed around openings. Holes existed for wiring and duct work, allowing sound to pass.
Additionally, the room contained fixtures that leaked sound. An air vent return and a 2′ x 4′ light fixture were located close to one shared wall. Lighting fixtures are vented for cooling and the air vent return allows air to pass back into a plenum space. Any opening that allows air to pass, also allows sound to pass. This sound transmission problem was going to require more than just one single solution.
To combat these sound isolation issues and contain the sound within the corner office, we deployed a system of materials from our PrivacyShield® line of products. The first step was to address the existing ceiling tiles in the T-bar grid. A typical ceiling tile does not offer much in regard to blocking sound transmission, room to room. The goals of the client were to reduce noise and increase privacy for patient confidentiality. Our solution was to install PrivacyShield® Ceiling Tile Backers on top of the existing ceiling tiles. These barrier reinforced ceiling tile backers are specifically designed to add mass and prevent sound from passing into the plenum space. They are simply placed over top of the existing tiles and snug-fit into the grid. For odd sizes and perimeter tiles, they were easily cut on site with a utility knife.
The second step was to address the two fluorescent lights in the grid. Light fixtures are manufactured to allow airflow for proper cooling. As a result, they also allow sound to pass through. To combat this issue, a solution needs to absorb sound while at the same time allowing the air flow required by the lighting fixture. The PrivacyShield® Light Hoods are specifically designed to provide a tortured path for sound while maintaining appropriate air flow. The light hood components were install directly on top of the existing light fixture using the CADS adhesive and tape to create a fully assembled unit.
Due to the fact that a 1% opening will allow 50% of the sound to pass through the opening, doors and any gaps need to be sealed. To seal the gaps around the door, an acoustical door seal kit was installed. The kit contains a jamb seal to seal the air gaps around the door and an automatic door bottom that seals against a threshold plate beneath the door. Acoustical caulk was used to seal any seams, gaps or openings that would allow sound to pass into the neighboring rooms.
Prior to the installation, sound was leaking from the corner office to the two adjacent rooms. You could hear full sentences from one room to the other. Since the PrivacyShield® installation was completed, conversations can no longer carry over through the grid. The client states that, every once in a while, you may hear voices, but you cannot understand anything. Client confidentiality is now secure. Clients, as well as the therapists, can remain confident that the privacy of their discussions is being upheld and that no one can hear what is discussed in their session.
From the Client: “We are able to ensure the confidentiality and privacy of information shared in therapy sessions more than we previously could, due to the sound proofing. Thanks so much for your assistance! We really appreciate it!” – Dr. Ariel Ham, Psy.D.