When Dynalectric, San Diego, started work on the University of California, San Diego Thornton Cardiovascular Center project, it faced many challenges.

“It is the first job like this I’ve done where all of the wiring had to be piped in. There was no free-air cable, just lots of intricate pipe work,” said Levi Lopez, project manager, Dynalectric.

Think about the complex electronics that go into a cardiac emergency room: monitors, outlets, computers, secure devices and more, all of which need wiring. Lopez supervised installation of 250,000 to 300,000 feet of 3/4-inch conduit to run the wiring.

“Everyone is amazed at how it turned out. People comment that the racks are clean and it all looks good,” Lopez said. “It is the second-largest hospital project that we’ve done. It might have a small footprint, but there are lots of hours involved.”

Lopez’s project was just one of several hospital projects Dynalectric, San Diego, has completed. Another, with similar challenges, was the Sharp Grossmont expansion in La Mesa, Calif.

Bob McMakin, project manager, worked the original construction at Sharp Grossmont in 2002–2004 and was back for the second phase, involving critical care and emergency room floors in 2008–2009. Again, Dynalectric’s experience and preplanning paid off, since team members planned all of the first-phase electronics—both regular and low voltage—with expansion in mind. There was no need to power down any of the services in the hospital during the 18-month expansion.

UCSD gets secure

Lopez worked with UCSD’s design team and the engineer of record to spec the security details. San Diego-based SSD Systems worked with Dynalectric as the security subcontractor.

“One challenge is to clearly define and obtain the different user levels, access doors and any schedules desired by UCSD,” said Barry Whitson, sales manager for SSD.

There was some really fine pencil-sharpening in the bid process. The company won the job by less than $300.

“No one involved had ever seen a bid that close before,” Whitson said.

The project’s security component includes a large access system with 130 card readers, Internet protocol-video with 80 IP cameras—including several pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras and a separate security system at the pharmacy.

“We mainly did the infrastructure, conduit and boxes for the system,” Lopez said, adding that workers handled the power to the lights and receptacles, too.

The access portion of the system consists of Lenel 4-3300 smart controllers, Lenel 1320 dual reader interfaces, Lenel 1300 single-reader interfaces, Lenel 1200 I/O boards, 27 Lenel power supplies, 128 HID multiclass readers, a Schlage Scramble keypad, a Aiphone fixed video door station with integrated HID multiclass reader, Bosch DS160 request-to-exit detectors, and GE/Sentrol door position sensors. Several models of Axis cameras were used.

“There are over 95,000 feet of plenum-rated cable,” Whitson said. “We’ll also be supplying and installing rack and wire management equipment and the client work station with 19-inch monitor for managing the system.”

In addition, 35,000 feet of Category 6 plenum cable will be run for the IP-video system.

“Working within the confines of the interstitials running the cable will also be a challenge, since there are many other systems being installed using the same cable trays,” Whitson said.

All of the security will connect back to the central station at the main hospital. Some of the exterior cameras already are functioning. Other interior security currently is being installed or will be installed at the very end of the project.

Planning ensures success

In addition to preplanning for expansion in the original construction at Sharp Grossmont, McMakin noted the value of preplanning and coordination with the other trades on that project. He was responsible for overseeing all the electronics on the three floors of critical care and emergency patient rooms.

“As with any hospital project, it had its challenges that rely on coordination,” McMakin said.

Each of the trades—from ductwork installers to sprinklers, medical gas and pneumatic messaging system installers—had to coordinate their activities.

“If there is one key thing we did right, it was getting good coordination with the other trades,” McMakin said.

On the other hand, if there was one thing he would have liked to improve, it would be coordination and preplanning.

“You can never have too much coordination,” he said. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

For Dynalectric, the project included complete electronic lighting and power, emergency power, the public address (PA) system, the nurse call system and the cable TV (CATV).

The second phase at Sharp Grossmont was a bonded project that went out for public bid. It involved completion of three floors of critical care and emergency patient rooms.

Throughout the project, patient rooms on the bottom floors were occupied. That meant no work before 7 a.m. and everything shut down by 5 p.m. The usual infection-control processes had to be in place every time a worker entered the building, since patients were being served by the hospital throughout the 18 months of actual construction.

All of the switchgears and breakers feeding the expansion were installed in the project’s first phase.

The emergency power system serves a number of outlets, including convenience outlets in the walls and the usual egress lighting and similar.

“We added one generator to the existing three to give four paralleling generators,” McMakin said.

In a power crisis, all start at the same time and feed a large emergency board that feeds the critical areas of the hospital.

A Hill-Rom nurse call system was installed.

“It all runs off the low-voltage system,” McMakin said.

A server in the IT room powers the entire system, which is coordinated from that location. This is a major undertaking, as Sharp Grossmont is the largest healthcare facility in east San Diego County.

“Nurse call is a tool used to monitor both the patient’s conditions and to allow patients to call a nurse for help,” McMakin said.

The nurse call system is not as extensive in the emergency room area as it is in patient rooms and the critical care areas. That, McMakin said, is because those areas do not have personal, 24/7 monitoring by nurses.

All of the other runs except the nurse call system—everything from the low-voltage CATV to the power wiring, lighting, fire alarms and security—is in raceways and in conduit.

Pharmacy project

The setup at the UCSD pharmacy was engineered and installed with similar care.

“The pharmacy is a separate entity, but integrated to the access control center,” Whitson said.

The UCSD-Thornton distribution is sophisticated. It has five substations, a high-voltage 4,160 generator that supports the high-voltage loop. From there, knock-downs deliver power at each building. There are three normal substations and two emergency substations that are fed from the high-voltage generator. There are a couple of battery-based uninterruptible power supply systems and six switches on the emergency side, two on the normal side, and numerous distribution boards and transformers on the 277—280 side as well as many panel boards.

“A separate Bosch Security system will be installed in the pharmacy,” Whitson said.

The UCSD-Thornton project was a public bid, as required by law. While UCSD-Thornton has a preferred list of vendors, Dynalectric knew going in that there would be challenges. For one thing, it is an California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPOD) job. While OSHPOD has a valid mission, the office has a reputation for causing project delays.

On the mechanical side, a Dynalectric sister company, University Mechanical, took on that assignment, since few bidders were willing to deal with the bureaucracy.

“They have tough requirements and tough standards,” Lopez said, adding that he still likes working with UCSD-Thornton.

“They are a great owner. They have a vision of a high-performance team. Everyone is a team player. The project has no walls,” he said, meaning that anyone on the team can talk to anyone else. He is free to grab a few minutes of the engineer’s or the architect’s time without the general contractor around.

“We’ve seen great results with this approach. I don’t think anyone’s ever approached OSHPOD in that way,” he said, adding that applies to everything from permit and drawings to getting OSHPOD change orders through.

Lopez also has a good internal team, including Missy Abernathy, his assistant project manager on the job; and Bill Rueckert and Wayne Macha, the leads on the job.

There were few restrictions about the work. Early on, when the initial digging and steel erection were underway, there were some concerns since the Cardiovascular Center abuts the existing UCSD-Thornton hospital.

“I’m proud of the work we did,” McMakin said. “When I drive by the hospital, it looks good on the outside. And I know that it is good inside, too.”

HARLER, a frequent contributor to SECURITY+ LIFE SAFETY SYSTEMS, is based in Strongsville, Ohio. He can be reached at 440.238.4556 and curt@curtharler.com.