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Martha's Moving: Emergency Power System

By: Bailey Disselkoen Email
By: Bailey Disselkoen Email

November 18, 2010

When bad weather causes the power to go out at the new Martha Jefferson Hospital, it will be the Emergency Power System saving lives.

The new computer based logic system will use 98% automation and 2% manpower versus the old hospital which uses 60% manpower and 40% automation.

"[The new system] notices, I've lost normal power, I need to turn the generators on, and then I need to transfer power from the normal breakers over to the emergency breakers. That whole decision making process happens in milliseconds," said Michael Spatz, the Director of Support Services.

It will take the new Martha Jefferson Hospital's generators seven to ten seconds to become fully functional. During that time, batteries will work to keep the hospital running.

"We have batteries that provide carry over power to electrical systems, so that patient care is not interrupted in critical places like the operating room. Those batteries provide electrical power until the generators fully kick on," explained Frank Jargowsky, the Manager of Safety and Security.

The new generators will produce 2, 700 horsepower and they will be four times more powerful than the generators at the old hospital. They will not only be able to keep operating rooms functional and light emergency exits, but they will also be able to provide heat and air conditioning to the hospital.

"The biggest difference is that we have a bigger footprint. This also powers heating and cooling, which is huge in the month of August. It doesn't take long for an operating room to start heating up," said Spatz.

When the power goes out at the new hospital, doctors will not only be able to continue the operation they were working on, they will also be able to continue on with additional cases.

"We took our experiences at the old hospital, but realized there were things that would provide better care. [When] we designed this facility, we increased the amount of emergency power to better the environment," said Jargowsky.

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