Operation: Technology

Dublin Methodist Hospital, which is the first new, full-service hospital in central Ohio since 1984, incorporates a cutting-edge, innovative, patient-centered design supported by state-of-the-art technology. Extensive computer networks—both hard-wired and wireless—support a broad battery of technological innovations.

“This is a truly different hospital,” said Cheryl Herbert, R.N., hospital president. “The layout makes sense, so visitors and patients feel like everything is in the right place without feeling impersonal. There is solid and growing evidence that creating healthcare environments centered around the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients positively impacts the natural healing process.”

Courtyards, rooftop gardens, natural materials and plenty of sunlight have a positive effect on patients, visitors and staff members throughout the hospital. All patient rooms are private, with no restrictions on family visiting hours. The rooms have pull-out sofa beds for guests who stay overnight, and patient room windows partially open for fresh air.

Every room can be converted to any level of care, eliminating the need for a traditional intensive care unit. And staff workstations are decentralized and open, bringing caregivers closer to their patients.

Tracking boards in the emergency department advise caregivers of patient status, leading to greater efficiency and shorter wait times. A computerized system supports doctors as they make decisions, place patient orders and write e-prescriptions. Caregivers digitally chart patient care at the bedside, and nurses accurately administer medications using bar-code scanning. A patient can access the Internet while in bed.

“This is not just a few extra products to reduce paperwork but a full digital infrastructure,” said Mrunal Shah, M.D., vice president of physician services for Dublin Methodist Hospital. “The most important part is that everything is clinically integrated, so we can easily find the information we need. The connectivity allows doctors to treat patients in the hospital, in their office or at home and allows the clinician to spend more time with the patient.”

Innovation and coordination

The $150 million, four-story hospital owned by OhioHealth was designed by the planning and architecture firm Karlsberger of Columbus, Ohio, and it was jointly built by Elford Construction and Gilbane Building Co. The contractors’ electrical partner was Mid-City Electric Co., also of Columbus. Mid-City Electric was responsible for the traditional power and the sophisticated low-voltage integrated building systems.

“We had a design/assist role on this project,” said Brian Dew, president and project executive for Mid-City Electric, “so we got involved with it earlier than usual. We worked with the designers and owners, and we gave estimates along the way to make sure that the project was on budget at the development milestones. And we identified alternatives when needed.

“As a result [of getting involved early on], we were able to get our work started earlier than we would have otherwise. Construction was done on time, and the design/assist approach saved six months on the whole project,” Dew said.

An intentional design feature of the hospital eliminated a basement, so the employees would not feel “underground” during their shifts. While that decision created long-term benefits for the staff, it created challenges for the trades that traditionally use the basement spaces to route conduit, ducts, cables, etc.

“We did the entire coordination on CAD,” Dew said. “The HVAC contractor went first, and then the rest of the trades followed, all before anyone set foot on-site. That eliminated a lot of on-site conflict, and it really helped quicken the overall schedule.”

That close coordination among the project contractors was not new. Rather, the major contractors already had established the required relationships and trust for such coordination on a previous OhioHealth project, the McConnell Heart Health Center, which was completed about two years prior to the start of the Dublin Methodist Hospital.

Once the preconstruction planning was complete, the Mid-City Electric crew installed 13,200 volts of power, feeding two double-ended substations in the new hospital. American Electric Power (AEP), the local electric utility, did not have an alternate backup circuit that is traditionally available for a hospital. Therefore, the design included an emergency generator system consisting of two 2-megawatt generators to carry the entire load of the facility. The generators are contained in a 20,000-square-foot central energy plant, the “backbone” of the facility. If power to the hospital is disrupted for an extended period of time, the whole facility will be able to run normally on power generated on-site.

“It’s unusual for a whole hospital to be able to be carried on generators,” Herbert said.

The central energy plant is 400 feet from the hospital and houses all major electrical and mechanical equipment, including boilers, chillers and generators. That means there is not any heavy equipment within the hospital building generating noise and vibrations for the patients and staff to endure.

“That off-site plant made for a more challenging installation, but it made for a better hospital,” Dew said. “But that was everyone’s whole mindset on this project. How can our work most help the overall goals of the project?”

As a result of having its own on-site generator system, the hospital does not have to pay a monthly “reservation of demand” charge that would have come with access to a backup circuit from the utility.

The installed electrical system included 40 transformers, 125 electrical panels, 7,100 light fixtures, 5,600 receptacles and 2,000 switches. To power all of those systems, the Mid-City Electric crew installed 306 miles of electrical wire in 65 miles of conduit.

Low-voltage systems

In addition to the traditional electrical work at Dublin Methodist, Mid-City Electric also was responsible for many of the low-voltage systems in this new high-tech facility. Mid-City Electric has been active in low-voltage work since the early days of network data cabling, entering the field in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“It was our customers that dragged us into the field,” Dew said. “They liked the work that we did, and they asked [us] to do their low-voltage work, too. So we got good at it in order to meet our customers’ needs.”

About 10 years ago, the company separated its telecommunications work into a separate division, Mid-City Technologies, for the same reason—the customers demanded it.

“They said to us, ‘We are specializing out IT work, and we want you to do the same,’” Dew said. The result is that Mid-City now has dedicated, well-trained and long-term career professionals doing its data work.

However, on the Dublin Methodist Hospital low-voltage systems, it was the Mid-City electricians who partnered with other specialty providers. Mid-City partnered with SimplexGrinnell, a unit of Tyco Fire and Security, on the fire alarm system. Mid-City staff provided and installed all fire alarm cabling and devices, and then SimplexGrinnell personnel programmed and certified the overall system.

“Testing was the biggest challenge on the fire alarm,” said Phil Shaub, Mid-City Electric’s project manager. “This is the first hospital to ever open in Dublin, so the local fire and building officials were noticeably cautious, wanting to make sure that they got it right for the community and the people in the hospital at any given time. Their approvals were pretty stringent, so it was a bit of a challenge to get the job done on time.”

The Rauland Borg nurse call system was provided by Ohio’s DataTalk LLC and installed by Mid-City. Rauland Borg technicians worked with Mid-City electricians on the programming and checkout process. The nurse call system also provides the infrastructure for the overhead sound and zoned paging system. The paging microphone is located in the hospital security office, and the obstetrics area will ultimately be uniquely equipped with a button to push when a baby is born that will announce the good news throughout the hospital by playing Brahms’ “Lullaby.”

The security/door lock control and card-reader systems were manufactured by Matrix Control Systems. Mid-City installed them at selected exterior and interior locations, as well as at parking gate access points. Mid-City installed the wiring, devices and the remote control and monitoring systems (RCMS) but did not terminate cables or install devices at the head-end, as that work was performed by the manufacturer’s on-site technicians.

For the Bosch closed-circuit television system (CCTV), Mid-City provided coaxial and power cables to each of the approximately 50 camera locations, where it also installed the video cameras. The system design called for pan-tilt-zoom cameras in the parking areas, and nonmoving cameras went on building walls and poles. Mid-City terminated and labeled the cables at the security office head-end, where the CCTV vendor interfaced them with four spilt-screen monitors.

All these installations, from high- to low-voltage, led to a successful completed hospital.

“Dublin Methodist Hospital is the future of healthcare happening right in front of us,” said Thomas Harmon, M.D., medical staff president for Dublin Methodist Hospital. “The design and technology are focused on improving patient care at every level. This is not technology for technology’s sake. It is making us better doctors.”

MUNYAN is a freelance writer in the Kansas City, Kan., area, specializing in business writing and telecommunications. He can be reached at www.russwrites.com.


About the Author

Russ Munyan

Freelance Writer
Russ Munyan is a freelance writer in Olathe, Kan., specializing in technical and business writing. He can be reached at www.russwrites.com

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