Coordinating Project Goals from Concept to Completion

In November 2007, Kaiser Permanente’s new $240 million, 340,000-square-foot, 150-bed hospital and 297,000-square-foot medical office building opened in Antioch, Calif. Designed as two separate, four-level towers connected by a four-level diagnostic and treatment section, the medical center includes medical-surgical and intensive care unit beds, 12 operating rooms, prenatal and maternity services, an emergency department, and full imaging services with computed tomography scanner, nuclear medicine and magnetic resonance imaging capabilities.

Kaiser Permanente chose HMH Builders, Sacramento, to be the general contractor for the project, and in late 2004, HMH issued a request for bid to three prequalified electrical contractors. Contra Costa Electric Inc. (CCE), Martinez, Calif., the company finally cho-sen for the initial $27 million electrical package, was on the short list because of its extensive healthcare and design/assist experience, along with its previous working relationship with Kaiser and HMH.

“We’ve teamed with HMH for close to 15 years on a number of healthcare projects,” said Charlie Hadsell, commercial division man-ager for CCE.

Over the past 10 years, CCE and HMH have worked to complete a number of complex hospital renovations throughout the San Fran-cisco Bay Area.

“From the moment we received our qualifying documents, it was obvious that Kaiser was creating an environment for the success of its template regional facilities. Every detail was taken into consideration, from merging their existing programs to incorporating the latest technologies,” said Tom Tatro, CCE’s vice president of operations.

After receiving the contract award, CCE assisted Kaiser’s chosen engineering consultants, ARUP Engineers and Mazzetti and Associ-ates, to continuously determine what changes could be made to improve the project’s constructability.

“Contra Costa worked openly and positively with the entire design team and owner to meet the project’s final goals,” said Rebecca Boulter, principal of Mazzetti. In addition, CCE teamed with the suppliers from Kaiser’s preapproved national list of manufacturers to ensure the products and systems chosen would best fit the project’s requirements.

“ARUP and Mazzetti incorporated CCE’s cost-saving suggestions before finalizing the design,” Hadsell said.

Work begins

Even before the contract award, CCE was given the on- and off-site electrical improvement package, including utility upgrades and the de-sign and installation of a 3,000-amp, medium-voltage, campus-wide temporary power system. CCE’s scope of work for the actual hospital project included power distribution and backup power, lighting, security/life safety, infant protection, closed-circuit television (CCTV), cable television, nurse call, patient monitoring, paging and medical gas monitoring systems.

Power was brought into the new facility from the utility’s underground lines into interior medium voltage, 21,000-volt switchgear in the central utility plant. The central utility plant provides heating and cooling to the facilities, with three chillers, three hot water boilers, two steam boilers, and two 2,000-kW emergency generators, and is sized to accommodate future expansion. Within the plant, power was stepped down for distribution to the facility’s equipment and various systems.

“Since the medical buildings were being located a considerable distance from the plant, we were able to recommend a design change for the power feeders and building-to-building cut banks that resulted in a significant savings for the project,” Hadsell said.

Backup emergency power is essential to any hospital, and to serve the project’s needs, CCE installed two 2,000-kW emergency diesel-powered generators and 14 associated transfer switches.

Lighting for the project required thousands of light fixtures, consisting of more than 180 different types and styles. Energy-efficient choices ranged from recessed, indirect and fluorescent, to decorative pendants, wall sconces and site lighting.

“CCE and the engineering team worked together to coordinate the installation of the fixtures, lamp sources and occupancy sensors to ensure efficient energy consumption and cost,” Hadsell said.

Challenges and triumphs

Project changes were challenging, according to Rich Jorgensen, CCE’s project superintendent, especially those that came late in the construction process. Examples included adding conduit and installing and wiring additional devices.

“Because of these late changes, the project’s schedule, as well as being able to determine the necessary manpower levels and ensure materials delivery, was a huge undertaking,” Jorgensen said.

CCE accommodated the project’s changes by adding resources, such as increasing manpower, without decreasing efficiency or delay-ing the schedule, by working closely with HMH and Kaiser and providing specific milestones that would achieve the end-goal.

The teaming philosophy on the project allowed the design team’s interpretation of Kaiser’s concepts to be effectively delivered to the building teams for construction or feedback, which allowed the project to be completed on time and on budget, according to Michael Dias, CCE’s president. In addition, the inspection process by the California Office of Statewide Health and Planning Development was stream-lined by strategically setting up job site trailers that housed HMH and architect design staff, as well as inspectors, under one roof.

Systems installed

Provided by Siemens Building Technologies Inc., Hayward, Calif., the hospital’s fire alarm system is a state-of-the-art, PC-based com-mand and control network designed to meet and exceed the latest building codes. Each building on the campus, including the medical office building, hospital towers and central utility plant, is protected by its own building panel. These networked panels cover more than 2,000 devices, including chimed strobes, pull stations, smoke detectors, duct detectors, fire and duct dampers, and beam detectors.

“This system has been the one Kaiser prefers and is employed throughout their facilities in Northern California,” Hadsell said.

The security system, provided by Securitas Security Systems USA Inc., consists of 181 card readers, 115 alarm points and 106 CCTV cameras. It was integrated on a single software platform and was then further integrated with the infant--protection system. The CCTV system includes Pelco cameras, with an automatic recording capability of 365 frames per second for fine detail. The photo ID badging system for employees and other associated hospital personnel, along with an independent security system for the on-site pharmacies, communicates through Kaiser’s local area network and also is monitored off-site, together with Kaiser’s other facilities. The infant-protection system monitors continuously and is designed to ensure full coverage of all components and protective devices. It operates in a Windows-based environment and is integrated with a CCTV system developed to interpret and react with general alarms, while generating the essential information needed to respond appropriately, should an incident occur.

For patient communications and nurse call, Kaiser chose the Rauland-Borg Nurse Call System. The life safety component in-cludes, for each bed, a patient station that has an intercom connected to the nursing station, as well as a nurse call button. There is a dome light with six LEDs over the door of each patient room to provide a visual indication of the patient’s need.

“When a patient places a call, it annunciates at the nursing station as well as triggering the dome light,” said Brenda Radel, healthcare specialist for Comtel Systems Technology Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif. Other nurse call devices pertinent to patient safety are the Code Blue Sta-tion, which is activated by nursing staff when a patient is in need of immediate medical attention, and the pull cord station, which is located in each patient bathroom for use in case of emergency. The Responder NET component of the system is a graphical user interface that in-cludes a flat touchscreen monitor and bar code reader that allows staff members to log into the system to retrieve information about pa-tient calls.

“The system also enables reports to be generated to determine the number of patient calls and the staff’s response time to assist in ensuring patient satisfaction,” Radel said.

Although the security and nurse call equipment was actually installed by CCE subcontractors, the company supported their efforts by providing all the conduit, raceway, supports, brackets, hangers, firestopping sleeves, and backing and back boxes, as well as project coordination.

CCE also was responsible for commissioning the new campus-wide medical gas alarm system and for keeping the existing medi-cal office building operational during its integration. The BeaconMedaes alarm systems are interlooped and report to the central control location for 24-hour surveillance and are redundantly integrated into the security system for additional monitoring.

By the time the project was finished, it had required six years of design meetings, 2,432 sheets of project drawings, 130 subcon-tractors, 650 tradesmen, 2.5 million hours of construction, enough electrical wiring to circle the earth, 3,000 tons of steel, and 7,000 light fixtures.

“Kaiser’s coordination with the entire team created opportunities for vital or creative input and continual situations for collabo-rative successes,” Tatro said.

BREMER, a freelance writer based in Solomons, Md., contributes frequently to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. She can be reached at 410.394.6966 or

About the Author

Darlene Bremer

Freelance Writer
Darlene Bremer, a freelance writer based in Solomons, Md., contributed frequently to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR until the end of 2015.

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