Baptist Memorial Hospital (BMH) in Collierville, TN, is no ordinary health care facility. Since its opening in 1999, BMH has raised the bar when it comes to applying new technologies to health care facilities. One instance is its integrated building systems (IBS) approach to health facility management. A driving factor in the building's design was that it had to serve the community in additional capacities that extended beyond inpatient services. Medical services offered range from outpatient and cardiac rehabilitation to surgery, an intensive care unit, nursery services, and outpatient diagnostics.

After just a few years of operation, the support services staff is realizing a new level of building management, thanks in large part to IBS technologies that integrate control and monitoring all of the key functions such as hvac, fire alarm/life safety, and boiler and chiller controls. Each of these critical building systems have been integrated into a centralized APOGEE(tm) building automation system (bas) provided by Siemens Building Technologies, Inc. (Buffalo Grove, IL).

Siemens acted as the systems integrator to take sole responsibility for ensuring that all of the disparate systems interoperated as designed, which was a key criterion in the early design stages for Jim Forbess, BMH's support services director. "Today, anybody can buy different technologies from different companies," he said. "The real challenge is integrating all of them into a sensible master plan and making them work together as one system, as intended."

Examination Eliminates Fragmentation

Both Forbess and support services foreman, Phil Vaughn recall "doing their homework" in evaluating and selecting the right systems integrator. What Forbess discovered was that most hospitals today have the same building technologies in place that Baptist had planned for, but they are predominantly fragmented (either nonintegrated or minimal systems integration taking place). "Our goal was to consolidate as much of the mechanical, electrical, and utility systems as possible under one umbrella. We wanted to have one intelligence center at one location that we could all access," he added.

At the Insight workstation, all of the equipment and components that are controlled and/or monitored (as well as representative floors, rooms, and sections of the entire facility) are mapped out by the IBS. Navigation through the various systems is made easy for the operator via simplified graphics.

With the fluctuations in natural gas prices, the hospital realizes another benefit of integrated systems. Operating data from the boilers (the units can burn either natural gas or fuel oil) are factored with the price of each energy source. This information empowers Forbess and his staff to make timely economic decisions about which source to use and when.

The main supply of natural gas is metered via an electronic "smart" meter as it enters the facility. The meter is equipped with a modem for communication with the local utility company. The IBS monitors natural gas consumption via hardwire integration.

Minimized Labor Costs

The IBS design concept has paid off in terms of higher operating efficiency, according to Vaughn. "System downtime is not an option," he explains. "If these building systems were not integrated, we would need many more service personnel to attend to the equipment. It would be very difficult to maintain 100% uptime."

The APOGEE system's alarm feature automatically alerts the support staff in the event of any condition that exceeds preset limits, such as a high operating temperature on an air-handler fan motor. Because the automation system is designed to avoid equipment downtime, an alarm is automatically sent to the boiler control room. Adds Vaughn, "This enables us to determine the cause of the condition immediately so that we know what tools and materials to take to the affected site."

As Forbess describes, after a one-year shakeout period of fine-tuning the IBS, temperature-related complaint calls from hospital staff are practically nonexistent. Equally important, the IBS provides detailed operating data that enables the support services staff to perform the optimum level of computerized preventive maintenance on high-priced equipment. In both the short and long term, this protects assets and saves the hospital considerable replacement expense, and also reduces the risk of equipment downtime.

System Integration

Single-seat navigation for support service staff and Siemens technical personnel is provided via a centralized APOGEE Insight graphical operator's workstation for control and monitoring of all integrated systems. Communicating on a peer-to-peer basis with the workstation is a modular building controller (MBC) that processes operating data from the chillers, boilers, fire alarm system, and numerous modular equipment controllers for the air-handling units (AHUs).

In addition, the MBC processes information from the digital point units, which provide operating data for the cooling towers, various other points throughout the physical plant, and numerous room differential pressure monitors at each of the hospital isolation rooms. A modem is also integrated with the workstation via the MBC to enable remote communications with the systems and diagnostics. Even the lobby fountain is controlled via IBS technology.

As Forbess maintains, facility growth played a major role in developing an IBS because of the flexibility it offers in adapting to change. "We're sitting on a powder keg of growth in terms of Collierville's population and the resultant health care services that will be required," he says.

"The functionality of this building is yet to be realized. For example, we now have a redundant chiller and a redundant boiler that will probably come on-line full time as we fulfill our growth plan by adding new surgical facilities and laboratory services," he adds. "The IBS is built for growth," concludes Forbess, "so we can layer new capabilities onto it as we go. That was one of the criteria we looked for as we developed our master plan."ES