Turning Down the Pressure

Doctors Talking


A 126-bed acute care hospital in Nashville urgently needed to convert the HVAC system in a classroom where doctors and nurses would treat COVID-19 patients. For the safety of everyone in the hospital, the room had to be negatively pressurized. When the door opened, air would flow in but not out, reducing the risk of the virus spread- ing through the facility.

The 1,600-square-foot room would be filled with at least 10 patients at a time, members of the medical staff, and multiple pieces of heat-generating equipment. The modified HVAC system had to create a comfortable environment as well as negative air pressure.

Work had to be completed quickly. This hospital was selected in November 2020 by their region- al ownership as the pilot hospital for a proprietary COVID-19 antibody infusion treatment. The treatment, called Bamlanivimab, had just received emergency-use authorization from the FDA (Federal Food and Drug Administration), so hospital staff members called the space their “Bam Clinic.” The clinic had to be ready for patients with just one week’s notice.


Lee Company’s Test & Balance team has been a trusted partner of the hospital for years and was on the scene within 24 hours of receiving a call from their director of facilities management (DFM). Much about how HVAC might spread COVID-19 in a building was still unknown at the time, and the DFM knew he needed expert advice. “All I knew is I needed to call someone I could trust, and that was Lee Company,” he said.

Lee Company pros quickly determined that the existing HVAC system kept the room positively pressurized. Air flowed out when the door opened, potentially exposing others in the building to the virus. Reducing air flow through the ductwork would help solve the problem, but doing that alone would make the room too hot for patients and caregivers. Lee Company team members consulted the HVAC system’s existing drawings and devised a plan to tap into a nearby existing ductwork system. The plan was not only safe, it had the approval of the American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE).


Thanks to Lee Company’s fast response, careful review of existing engineering records and creative solutions, the “Bam Clinic” was up and running in a matter of days. Over the next eight months, more than 500 patients were treated while the HVAC system designed by Lee Company kept the space comfortable, safe, and compliant.

“I’m just really thankful for Lee Company’s willingness to jump in and help, given all the uncertainty. I never heard anyone say, ‘we can’t do this,’ and that was critical to our mission. We were all work- ing on the unknown, and this team understood the big picture and did what it took to get it done,” said the DFM. When minutes matter, hospitals count on Lee Company’s expertise to provide specialized and efficient solutions.

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For nearly eight decades, customers have trusted Lee Company to handle everything from HVAC to plumbing to electrical services; we are the established experts in installation, maintenance, and repair.

Today, with more than 1,400 professionals on the team, we’re the people facility managers call when they need collaborative partners, eager to tackle the toughest challenges.

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