The sound environment was improved in one of the bays in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Leuven when installing acoustical islands.
The NICU has an innovative design focused on improving conditions for both staff and patients. The general layout is based on 3 interconnected bays. Each bay has 12 single-unit patient rooms and consists of an inner bay and an outer bay. In the inner bay, the medical staff is present, in the outer-bay non-medical circulation happens (mainly parents).
Neonatal units are noisy places – and all that noise goes straight into the sensitive ears of the tiny premature babies. It causes changes in heart rate and blood pressure, and the infants sleep less soundly and forget to breathe, which affects oxygenation. In their delicate state, this can lead to serious consequences such as cerebral hemorrhaging.
In order to investigate whether the sound environment could be further improved, acoustical free-hanging islands were installed in one of the inner bays. This generated big improvements acoustically, as can be seen in the video about this case.
The video informs about the general design, the acoustic challenges, the thermal comfort needs, and the solution decided upon. The users of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unittell us how the sound environment improved acoustically.