Key Components of Managing a Major Medical Gas Shutdown

By Jake Anderson

Utility shutdowns are a routine part of construction projects in which MEP infrastructure is being modified. These shutdowns require thorough investigation and planning to successfully complete the work without disrupting our client’s operations. These planning steps become even more critical when we are performing a major utility shutdown in a hospital – communication and collaboration are paramount. There is absolutely no margin for error as patients and hospital services rely on these utilities for hospital care and treatment.

On our project at Northwestern Medicine’s McHenry Hospital, we are renovating four full floors within their main patient bed tower. Since the start of the project, our team has successfully completed several major utility shutdowns. This past week, as part of our Phase 1 scope of work, we shut down one of two medical gas risers in the bed tower. The purpose of this shutdown was to add isolation valves within each patient pod, which equated to four pods per floor on four floors. These valves will now allow the hospital to isolate medical gas, oxygen, and vacuum lines to each individual pod. This allows crews to perform maintenance and changes to the system without having to shutdown an entire riser which will limit impacts to the hospital’s operations.

Our Reed team partnered with our subcontractor, Helm Mechanical, to make a plan and provide temporary Oxygen, Medical Air, Nitrous Oxide and Nitrogen to each impacted patient room during the shutdown. Helm, along with Artec Environmental, furnished 30 vacuum pumps, 78 cylinders of medical gas and $60,000 of hardware to successfully back-feed each patient room while the shutdown took place. In an effort to reduce the shutdown time to complete the work, Helm Mechanical also partnered with Porter Pipe to provide an onsite semi-trailer workshop that allowed their team to pre-fabricate valves and pipes needed to successfully complete this scope of work.

Open and honest communication and collaboration between our team at Reed and our contractors, and detailed planning is what is needed to complete sensitive shutdowns like this one.

FUN FACTS ABOUT THIS SHUTDOWN:

  • 30 Vacuum pumps were used
  • 78 H Cylinders of medical gas which included (Oxygen, Medical Air, Nitrous Oxide, Nitrogen)
  • $60,000 worth of hardware was used for the back feed
  • 120 Hours of team coordination
  • 86 hours of prefabrication and hardware assembly
  • 156 hours of shutdown worktime with a team of 13 workers
  • 8 Team Coordination Meetings

Key partners include: Northwestern Medicine, Helm Mechanical, Artec Environmental Monitoring, Porter Pipe, PFB Architects, and IMEG.

About the Author

Jake Anderson is a Project Manager at Reed Construction. He is devoted to providing our healthcare clients with superior service, and is known for his creativity in executing complex projects. Jake is the lead Project Manager on the Northwestern Medicine McHenry Bed Tower Renovation project.