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Door Controls: New Switch Leads to Smooth Operations

Santa Barbara (Calif.) Cottage Hospital must transfer patients quickly for different services, but the hospital’s automatic door controls were not keeping up with the fast-paced environment



Santa Barbara (Calif.) Cottage Hospital is the largest acute-care teaching hospital between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The 408-bed facility has annual admissions of more than 19,000 patients, 40,000 emergency-department visits, and 2,800 births, so the hospital must transfer patients quickly for different services. But the hospital’s automatic door controls were not keeping up with the fast-paced environment.

The hospital was equipped with a number of automatic doors designed to open when occupants activated a wall-mounted door switch. The switches featured a hinged front plate above a micro-switch. Pushing the front plate was designed to activate the micro-switch, which signaled the door controller to open the door.

But the mechanical arrangement of the switch made it temperamental and unreliable. The moving hinged plate would not align well with the micro-switch.

Medical staff moving patients needed to carefully push the switch plate in the right place to open the doors. During an emergency, when the staff members had to move a patient quickly, they often would press the switch, but the door would fail to open.

The way the staff dealt with the inoperable door involved hitting the switch with full force. This method activated the switch and opened the door but often resulted in holes in the walls and broken wall switches.

To address this issue, the hospital’s director of facilities specified Essex Electronics’ Hand-E-Tap®. The Hand-E-Tap is a switch that employs piezo electric sensor elements behind a stainless-steel activation face. The sensing face of the solid-state switch has no moving parts.

When a hand presses the front face, the piezo elements produce an electric charge, which the onboard electronics sense within the device. The electronics provide an output to the door controller to open the door.

The automatic doors now open when they should, and users do not have to slam the switch. The flow of patients within the facility is moving smoothly. The hospital has installed the Hand-E-Tap in its current facility and plans to use the electronic switch in its new facility.


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