Jun 11, 2023
Switchgear swap goes swimmingly at WCHC
Aug. 22, 2023 10:16 am WASHINGTON — A change of equipment that controls the flow of electricity into Washington County Hospital and Clinics went off without a hitch Friday night, according to CEO Todd
Aug. 22, 2023 10:16 am
WASHINGTON — A change of equipment that controls the flow of electricity into Washington County Hospital and Clinics went off without a hitch Friday night, according to CEO Todd Patterson.
The swap happened around 10 p.m. Aug. 18, with an “incident command” team of facility decision-makers staying on-site until early the next morning to troubleshoot and enact any contingency plans, although Patterson said such snap choices were not needed.
“Everything went as planned and we just completed the cutover,” Patterson said in an email around half past midnight on Saturday. “We are now operating off of the new power plant.”
The change from the building’s previous switchgear, installed in 1968, was the last stage of a yearslong effort to modernize the hospital’s inner workings, from air conditioners to boilers to rooftop units. Patterson said planning for the effort started in 2018, took a pause during the early surges of COVID-19, and eventually restarted.
WCHC Construction Manager Craig Pettit said it was hard to overstate the scale of the undertaking.
“You start with a conceptual plan, and then you create a budget off of that, and there are three stages after that where you actually price it,” he said. “Then the design team, the construction manager and myself, we would go through and try to pick holes in what our design is, so there’s four phases of that before it goes out to bid.”
Those years represent most of Pettit’s time at WCHC. He said he was “more worried than most,” leading up to Friday as a matter of professional diligence, but was ready to see the work complete.
He added that the new infrastructure would set up the hospital for future growth, calling it “a great base to build on.”
In total, Patterson said the recent batch of modernization efforts had run the hospital around $8 million.
“We kept kind on finding things we needed to replace and address,” he said. “The stuff supporting the hospital was just not as reliable as we needed it to be, and so we figured if we were going to spend the money … that we should do everything we can to make sure that we don’t have to do this again in five years.”
The investment is expected to pay off in the form of utility costs and staff time.
Patterson and Pettit said maintenance personnel would be more available for other work around the building with fewer electrical issues on their plate, and that the change of equipment would improve the building’s power efficiency.
“We’re expecting it to make us use about 35% less energy here,” Patterson said. “It’ll hopefully cut our energy costs, usually energy consumption reduction is followed by reduced energy costs.”
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