Advanced cooling systems protect Health First hospitals during hurricanes
Many hospital organizations are busy preparing for hurricane season, a time when they and millions of coastal residents and businesses pay close attention to tropical waves and disturbances as they begin to take shape over the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. The 2019 Atlantic Hurricane season officially began on June 1 and ends November 30.
It's a crucial time for Health First's Cape Canaveral Hospital, which sits on a barrier island, and has been a huge safety concern in recent years when hurricanes have caused the hospital to evacuate and transport patients to other Health First hospitals.
"When I came on board two years ago, I became aware of this issue," said Tom Davis, Health First's Vice President of Facilities, Construction and Real Estate.
Davis says during the last few hurricane seasons, Cape Canaveral Hospital endured substantial interior damage due to the environmental conditions created by the air conditioning chillers being shut down during an evacuation. The chillers generate cool water that is used to provide air conditioning in buildings. The shutdown resulted in damages and repairs costing millions of dollars.
As a result, Davis and the Cape Canaveral Hospital facilities team implemented a new cooling system in May 2019 with the help of BCER, a local engineering firm. Together, they strategically designed a permanent solution to replace the former cooling towers with a new tank that can hold 18,000 gallons of water to replenish the new cooling towers in an event of a hurricane.
"There's not a model out there like this," said Davis, "This is the first of its kind."
The new cooling system is vital for when the hospital endures a hurricane. It works by trapping water inside of the tank, which helps to automatically refill the cooling towers with water and maintain the chillers when the facility is not manned by personnel during a hospital evacuation.
Davis says the old cooling system would lose water due to heavy winds and leave the cooling towers high and dry and not being able to cool the 270,000-square-foot building.
Being ready for a natural disaster isn't just a concern at Cape Canaveral Hospital. Health First's Palm Bay Hospital and Holmes Regional Medical Center also recently had cooling towers replaced.
"Readiness for any hurricane season and the reliability of our equipment ... we want to make sure we can withstand whatever Mother Nature throws at us," Davis said.