Information Bulletin 00-16
Conversion of Health Care Space
To Assisted Living Units
Minnesota has been experiencing a considerable increase in the construction of assisted living facilities. In addition to construction of new assisted living buildings, health care facilities are converting whole floors, wings or parts of wings from nursing home or hospital occupancies to assisted living units. Nursing home ability to lay-away beds is expected to accelerate conversion of nursing home space to assisted living units.
Licensed health care facilities that connect a new assisted building to an existing nursing home and/or hospital, convert existing nursing home and/or hospital space to assisted living units, or expand nursing home and or hospital functions into assisted living buildings are required to submit construction plans to the Department of Health for review and approval. The purpose of this Information Bulletin is to restate this requirement.
A hospital or nursing home is classified as a health care (or institutional) occupancy. Assisted living units are classified as a residential occupancy. NFPA 101 (Life Safety Code) requires an occupancy separation where two or more classes of occupancy occur in the same building or structure. Whether an addition or conversion of space, Department of Health review and approval of construction plans will assure continued compliance of the nursing home and/or hospital with the Life Safety Code. The Department has been involved in situations where lack of review and approval has led to significant problems and cost for the health care facility.
One example involved a nursing home that relocated the physical therapy department from the nursing home to the adjacent assisted living building. The facility did not contact the Department prior to this relocation. The assisted living building did not comply with the construction requirements of the Life Safety Code, therefore, the physical therapy department had to be relocated back to the nursing home. The alternative of upgrading the assisted living spaces to health care standards was cost prohibitive.
A telephone call to the Department's Engineering Services Section can answer any questions regarding the need for review and approval of construction plans. Calls can be directed to:
Engineering Services Program