When Ian Hendry looked at the doors of the state-of-the-art outpatient psychiatric facility he helped to oversee, he wanted to see an invitation to recovery in a safe and caring environment. Instead, what he found was an ongoing maintenance and budget issue that didn’t seem to have a solution.
As Director of Security at Arkansas State Hospital (ASH), he knew how important it was to have strong doors to enhance privacy and safety. Unfortunately, it seemed as if installing new doors was doing nothing to solve the issue. As he recalls, “we would have doors that were installed on a Monday, and would be completely wrecked by Thursday of the same week.”
Only five years old, the facility’s doors were starting to look worn and beaten. Hendry began to wonder how he would maintain a sense of security for the hospital’s patients while still adhering to a tight budget.
High-Traffic Door Durability
Originally, the hospital had been fitted with wooden doors in the patient wing. However, the severe damage they suffered quickly proved that they weren’t durable enough to be a long-term solution. In search of a better answer, Hendry looked to Robb Strong of American Building Specialties (ABS). Strong’s initial recommendation was to try 14 gauge steel-stiffened doors.
However, to the surprise of both men, the new equipment was almost completely destroyed within 48 hours of their initial installation. Doors, frames, and hardware that were supposed to last a lifetime were needing replacement within a week at ASH.
At that point, Strong realized his team was dealing with a unique challenge. “Doors at the Arkansas State Hospital get more abuse in one day than the doors at other facilities endure in a year. Along with the high amounts of traffic, they are put under an intense amount of pressure. So, we started looking for different solutions.”
Of particular concern were the lock pockets on the steel-stiffened doors. Constant use would leave both the top and bottom pockets prone to splitting. Once that splitting occurred, the pockets would have to be reinforced quickly or the door would cease to function.
These potential solutions included adding various types of reinforcement to the doors themselves, as well as the surrounding structure. Hendry himself attempted to make the steel-stiffened doors more durable by adding ¼ inch of plexiglass to each frame, with the aim of reducing the kind of bouncing action that could wear on hinges and materials.
Despite these efforts, Hendry estimates that ABS replaced somewhere around 360 of the 14 gauge steel-stiffened doors at the hospital – more than a dozen a week – during an 18 month period. Eventually, he and Strong decided to look at a completely different product. In an effort to stop the endless cycle of buying, installing, and replacing doors around the facility, they began researching the Mesker No Visible Seam (NVS) door.
A Seamless Answer
For obvious reasons, Hendry wanted ABS to find a door that wasn’t just strong, secure, and durable, but also one that would have a durable lock pocket that could withstand patient abuse. Beyond the normal wear and tear found in any-traffic facility, ASH had the additional concerns of patients trying to force doorways open by ramming them with furniture. The staff were facing a conundrum: regulations prevented them from bolting furniture down, but the facility’s doors couldn’t survive for long under those conditions.
In searching for new alternatives, the solid core of the NVS product stood out to Hendry. Not only did Mesker products have a reputation for being able to stand up to a heavy workload, but the patented NVS door having a fully welded seamless edge, not only makes it more aesthetically appealing but more than triples the strength of a normal door! The weakest part of the door is often the seam. Temperature changes and constant use eventually cause putty to crack and break out of the seam, but with a continuously welded seamless edge, like the NVS door, there is no seam, putty or filler. The NVS door also comes with a lifetime structural weld warranty which sounded ideal for the working environment at ASH. Desperate for a workable solution, he ordered over 200 new doors from ABS. When they arrived, he remembers feeling shocked. “I had never received so many doors at once!”
Hendry and his staff at ASH noticed the difference almost immediately. Even though the Mesker NVS doors were lighter – they used an HMX 12 gauge door for their adult patient wing – maintenance and replacement issues began to disappear. It turned out that strength was more important than the amount of metal in the door when it came to doors and durability.
A Bigger Opening
According to Hendry, the initial test of Mesker’s seamless doors was a huge success. “Before, we had doors that were wearing out very quickly,” he says. “However, a year after installing Mesker’s NVS doors, they were still in excellent shape. That’s when we decided to start replacing all of our wooden and steel stiffened doors with Mesker seamless models.”
That would prove to be no small task. There are more than 2400 openings at the hospital’s various network locations. 400+ new seamless models have already been installed, with plans to continue the ongoing upgrades in the coming months as the state budget allows.
For Ian Hendry, the success of Mesker NVS doors in his facility isn’t about hardware, construction, or even a certain gauge of steel – instead, it’s about saving time and money while making treatment centers more safe and secure. “The difference in labor and maintenance is incredible,” he says. “The NVS door has made my life easier.”
Finally, ASH can stop worrying about installing new doors and concentrate on the health and safety of their patients.