Flow Tech Keeps Hartford Hospital’s ORs Running Safey and Efficiently

AHU, UV Emitter and VFD Solutions for the Bliss Building

New construction is always an exciting thing. Everything in a building is brand new, never been used, and is in tip-top condition, including the HVAC and building systems. Eventually time passes and that brand new building becomes 10 years old, then 20, 30, and eventually 40+. Those once state-of-the-art and brand new building systems are now outdated, inefficient and need replacement.

Such was the case with Hartford Hospital’s Bliss Building. Built in 1970, the buildings original air-handling units had never been replaced, but were in dire need. Today’s blog features the case study about how Flow Tech was able to replace three of the hospital’s air-handling units with our disrupting their ORs…

The Challenge: Replacing Old AHUs While Maintaining Operating and Recovery Room Airflow

In 1854, an explosion from a new steam boiler at the Fales & Gay Car Works in Hartford, CT killed/injured many people. This catastrophic event inspired the community to build the area’s first hospital. This hospital was named after the city where it is founded. From those early beginnings, Hartford Hospital has grown to be the leading medical center in Hartford, and one of the finest hospitals in New England. Today, Hartford Hospital is Central Connecticut’s leading tertiary medical center with a world class medical staff supported by over 7,000 nurses and staff members. As with all hospitals, Hartford Hospital strives to provide only the best healthcare to its patients. In order to accomplish this, it is of the utmost importance that its facilities remain in excellent working condition.

The main entrance to the hospital.

In 2012 two of seven air-handling units (AC2 & AC6) located in the hospital’s Bliss Building needed to be replaced due to wear and tear, and new ventilation and air conditioning requirements. The Bliss Building is a 12-story high-rise that houses critical operating and patient recovery rooms. Built in 1970, it was no surprise that the original air-handling units (AHUs) were outdated and needed to be replaced due to not supporting the building’s growing demands in airflow.

Since the Bliss Building is home to such crucial operating rooms, shutting down the facility was not an option. The hospital needed an air handling unit replacement solution that would allow operation schedules to go unchanged. The facilities staff at Hartford Hospital knew this would be a difficult task as the exiting air handlers were located deep underground in the facility’s mechanical equipment room (MER)/basement, and just accessing them, let alone replacing them would prove difficult.

The original 1970 AC-2 unit.

The hospital turned to Flow Tech, Inc. to provide a solution for replacing the two outdated AHUs. They were impressed with Flow Tech’s attention to detail, professional work ethic and top-notch products. Both replacements were completed with no interruption to the hospitals procedures, so on Christmas Eve 2013, it made good business sense to once again turn to Flow Tech, Inc. when a 3rd AHU (AC1) in the Bliss Building MER failed. This particular unit was categorized as a more critical unit because it serviced the building’s operating rooms. Any system downtime would not only prove detrimental to the hospital, but also to the success of scheduled operations, and overall patient well-being.

The Solution: Air Enterprises Custom SiteBilt™ AHU and Steril-Aire UV Emitters

Understanding the severity of the situation, John Maura, Engineer and Mechanical Unit Leader for the hospital’s HVAC department, reached out to Mike Davis, one of Flow Tech’s sales engineers, about the AHU failure. “Mike’s dedication was a great surprise! He took my call while at home with his
family on Christmas Eve. He came in first thing the day after Christmas to provide support” states Maura. Flow Tech was very familiar with the AHU procedure and after assessing the situation they determined Air Enterprises’ SiteBilt™ would be the best option for this challenge.

The AC-1 SiteBilt™ replacement AHU took only 15 days to install.

SiteBilt™ is a custom air-handling unit option often chosen for short construction deadlines and/or tight space restrictions because it is completely assembled onsite. Manufactured by Air Enterprises and provided by Flow Tech, this option was exactly what the doctor ordered. Maura explains, “Only 15 days was needed for the AHU to be installed and functioning. If we went with a competitor’s product it could have easily taken months and may have delayed surgeries for up to 6 months. This would have cost the hospital thousands of dollars, as doctors rent operating room time from the hospital.”

Due to the critical environment of the rooms the unit would be serving, advanced sterilization methods had to be considered to decontaminate the operating rooms’ airflow. Luckily Maura didn’t have to look far. Flow Tech also provides Steril-Aire, the premiere Ultra-Violet solution specifically designed for HVAC applications. Steril-Aire UV emitters look similar to long, thin light bulbs, however they emit UV light, and kill any microbial bacteria flowing through the air or growing within the air-handling unit along the unit’s cooling coils. They not only create a cleaner operating room environment, but help combat Sick Building Syndrome too. Steril-Aire UV emitters were installed along the cooling coils and final filters for AC2 and AC6, replaced in 2012, as well as in the newest AC1 replacement in 2014.

The completed AC-6 AHU.

The Results: Healthier and More Efficient Environment for Patients, Doctors and Staff

“The SiteBilt™ AHU and Steril-Aire UV emitters are working out very well. Aside from keeping the airflow sterilized and circulating, maintaining a proper OR temperature is vital,” explains Maura. He continues, “It’s not just for patient comfort, some anesthetics are more effective if administered at a certain temperature.” With the new AHU, achieving proper room temperature is not an issue and doctors can focus all their attention on proper patient care now that airflow and air decontamination are no longer concerns.

Steril-Aire’s UV emitters inside AC-1 AHU.

Another huge requirement of the project was the need to support future growth in capacity. Maura wanted to ensure the new unit could accommodate a potential facility expansion, or an increased airflow load. Not only was Air Enterprises’ SiteBilt™ AHU sized to support a 50% increase in future capacity, but Flow Tech provided the hospital with ABB variable frequency drives (VFDs) to help with this requirement too. The VFDs control the speed of the fan motors inside the air-handling unit. They allow for more efficient operation, as well as, will support fan speed and movement for a 50% increase in capacity.

A VFD controls the fan speed of AC-6 making its operations more efficient.

When asked if he could provide advice to someone else in a similar situation Maura had this to say,

Cost shouldn’t be the driving factor for a purchase of this magnitude. Take a look at the quality of the product and talk to someone who is already experienced with it. Ease of construction and lead time is another important factor. Flow Tech was only a few miles away and guaranteed and delivered a 15-day construction timeline- that’s huge!

It was our pleasure to be given the opportunity to work with Hartford Hospital. We look forward to working with them again. Like what you see? Make sure to share this case study with your colleagues. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and connect with us on LinkedIn. For more information about this, or any project make sure to visit our website, or contact us!

Nichole Petersen

Director of Marketing at Flow Tech, Inc.
Nichole joined Flow Tech in 2013 as Director of Marketing. She leads our marketing communication initiatives including content marketing development, coordinating events and training, maintaining our digital presence and recruiting, as well as, some business development and office support. Nichole resides in Vernon with her husband Brian and son Roman. She enjoys hosting parties, cooking and lounging on the beach.
Nichole Petersen

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