So many people have been asking where we are in our process with Public Health. I hesitate to answer because in many ways we aren’t any closer to regulations than we were when we first contacted them last year, but in other ways, I see a lot of progress. Just not enough that allows us to offer floats to the public yet. There's been a bit of red tape involved in the process.
The Department of Health has been great to work with. It doesn’t mean the process has always been pleasant, but I honestly believe that they are doing their very best to understand the float tank and do their job so that the general public is protected from any hazards. Our meeting in February, which I was very nervous about, turned out to be really enjoyable! They are a great group of people.
You can read more about the process below, but if you want the short answer, here it is - we have no clue when we can offer these to the public. It could be very soon if:
*we can figure out how to create the sensory deprivation experience within the context of DOH compliance,
*raise enough money to implement them all (float tank rooms are very expensive build out and getting more so each time a regulation is added)
*find a place to lease within a defined area that will allow us the most chance of survival as a business. We’ve been turned down 5 times as landlords aren’t too fond of the amount of build out that needs to be done. Our real estate agent, who is amazing and diligent, says we should expect it to take a year or two to find the right space.
I can tell you that regulations are not written yet. They are working on a list of compliance items – items a float center must comply with in order to be approved to open their floats to the public.
If you want the long answer, read on.
The compliance list has a lot of really great things on it that I completely understand why they are included. For example:
No glass in the tank room. So unlike most tank centers we cannot have lamps in the room. I get it. Water is slippery, things fall and broken glass is not the naked person’s friend. Not to mention, the lamp mechanisms quickly break due to the corrosion of the salt. However, this creates a new problem – how to allow each client to control the sensory deprivation experience. We have yet to find a way to do this that stands up to the corrosion of the salt and can handle the wet environment. While some tanks have a built in switch to control lighting in the room, the Oasis does not and if we were to break the fiberglass unit at this point it would cause many other problems with the soundproofing.
Then there are the compliance issues that seem overkill. For example:
We cannot hand feed the h202 directly into the water. We must have an automated chemical feed to do this.
I have to admit, that I don’t understand the reasoning behind this, but here’s why something so simple is becoming a difficulty for us. First, the piece of equipment runs $1000 - $1,200/tank which in our case adds 10% to the overall cost of the tank.
The smallest feeder we found has a 2.9 gallon tank to store the chemical. However h202 oxidizes too easily so we are unable to store it in the feeder’s tank. So to maintain the 30-40 ppm level we must first hand measure the amount, pour it into the tank and then press the button to dispense it into the 150 gallons of water so we aren’t hand feeding it directly into the tank. I have asked them to clarify and confirm this because after a very long time of research into these mechanisms, I can’t see any other options.
In addition, there have been compliance issues that are downright cost prohibitive. This example shows not only the expense of compliance, but also our fear that we cannot offer a quality sensory deprivation experience which means less effectiveness of the overall therapy. For example:
Must have a 1000 cfm(cubic feet per minute) ventilation system. Their reasoning is to combat mold and once again, that is reasonable. However, we have yet to discover any tank center that uses more than the normal exhaust fan (Float On is the exception to this – or will be very soon). We’ve gotten many recommendations on quiet fans, but nothing but surprised to shocked reactions to this point of compliance. Not only will this be very expensive to implement, but create an issue with soundproofing. Soundproofing issues are often expensive to fix.
It is a frustrating process. Our goal has always been to provide inexpensive but effective therapies for living an amazing life. My own battle with chronic pain led me here, but as the cost to create this mounts, I’m worried TN may not be able to offer this amazing therapy at a fairly affordable (for many) rate.
It is an expensive process and we’ve been in it alone since the beginning. It would appear that despite all the rumors I hear of people “trying” before, no one actually put their money where their mouth is and moved forward with the battle. That’s okay. We like a challenge. And eventually we will make this happen for everyone who wants to experience a float tank.