The hospital used a Firestop Speed Sleeve to run ventilator tubes and cables through the walls.

Image courtesy of Riverside Regional Medical Center

Health care workers have been on the front lines of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, making them particularly vulnerable to contracting the virus. At Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News, Va., the fight is no different. The hospital was confronted with a challenge that many other facilities are faced with: How can health care workers be protected while providing vital and quality care to COVID-19 patients?

After much discussion and research, hospital officials sought to create an effective barrier between medical equipment and patients. To successfully produce a solution to its problem, the medical center enlisted the services and products of firestop leader Hilti North America, Plano, Texas, which manufactures innovative and specialized tools, fastening systems and software-based solutions. 

A life safety engineer initially reached out to the commercial construction manufacturer through, an online education and discussion forum between customers and Hilti’s engineering team. 

The hospital sought a solution that would allow it to place life-saving medical equipment such as ventilators and IV pumps outside of the hospital room but still feed the support these devices supply to the patient. 

After speaking with a Hilti specialist, the hospital selected the Hilti CP 653 Firestop Speed Sleeve. The sleeve is designed to be integrated into a firestopping system to address the specific needs of specialized cabling environments. Its simple twist mechanism results in optimized airflow control. This helps health care facilities professionals reduce the spread of potentially harmful airborne pathogens. 

Inside the wall sleeve, the inner fabric liner twists closed for a custom fit around the cables. Although it is not designed to hermetically seal openings, it does effectively help restrict the passage of air, an essential factor for life safety of the facility. 

“We use Hilti products throughout the hospital,” says Bryan Costa, an engineer on staff at Riverside. “For running new data cabling through existing smoke and fire walls, you can’t beat the Hilti Firestop Speed Sleeve. We found that we can also use that same firestop sleeve to run ventilator tubing and cables through the patient room walls.”

The wall sleeve installation allowed hospital engineers to position ventilators and IV pumps outside patient rooms, reducing the potential exposure of COVID-19 to its health care workers. This also enabled the medical team to monitor ventilators more effectively, with less downtime. Additionally, hospital officials say it’s helped them save protective gear, another crucial need to help reduce the spread of the virus. 

Robert Maynard, business process improvement manager at Riverside, who is also a licensed registered respiratory therapist with many years working in critical care, says the solution helps to reduce the number of trips made into the patient room. “Equipment safely placed outside a room reduces the need to wear personal protective equipment, helping us conserve our supply,” Maynard says. “It’s a thinking-outside-the-box type of concept. The firestop sleeve is designed to seal around the wires, stopping airflow between the two spaces. It works very well.” 

Maynard believes Hilti’s wall sleeve could be a regular part of its future, as the product has proven it can be an effective solution to help protect health care workers in a better, more efficient manner. 

Riverside Regional Medical Center is one of five hospitals in the Riverside Health System. The system, which serves coastal Virginia, includes both the regional medical center and rural hospitals. Officials are discussing a plan to install the wall sleeve at all hospital locations to help the fight against COVID-19.  

“I am so proud that our team was able to make a contribution to helping protect health care heroes on the front line during this public health crisis,” says Martina McIssac, president and CEO of Hilti North America. 

“And I am so glad that the hospital took advantage of the direct line to Hilti innovation through ‘Ask Hilti,’” she continues. “Riverside’s use of our firestop technology is a testament to how we can come together in this time to jointly handle the challenges this crisis brings to construction projects.”