Under the radar: Engineering work at the MUHC
Behind a hospital's walls you'll find an arsenal of machines that are indispensable to the smooth running of all of its activities: cooling machinery, generators, air treatment units and more. Taking proper care of this equipment is clearly essential. The McGill University Health Centre's Engineering Department recently replaced two cooling units and water towers situated on the sixth floor of the E wing of the Montreal General Hospital (MGH-MUHC).
"The MUHC’s entire infrastructure is essential for the proper running of our hospitals," says Bassam Ajam, head of the MUHC's Engineering Department.
"These machines cool the water of the entire hospital during the summer months and provide air conditioning to certain areas, especially the operating rooms and the Emergency Department, where biomedical equipment has to stay cool and dry," explains Bassam Ajam, engineer and head of the MUHC's Engineering Department. "It's important to make sure we have machines that can be relied upon at all times."
Killing two birds with one stone
Undertaking projects of this nature is no small task. Mr. Ajam and his team worked for a year before the installation of the new equipment, which finally took place between November 2015 and April 2016. In collaboration with consultants, suppliers and the MGH's technical services team, they had to use a crane to remove the old cooling units and the enormous heat pump through a hole in a wall of the sixth floor in the E wing. Then they completely renovated the mechanical room and installed new machines in January (see photos below). The budget? About $3 million.
"It was a big construction job," says Mr. Ajam, who carefully plans each project strategically to maximize results, serving the greatest number of departments and users possible. "This new machinery will allow us to make improvements over the long term. As the renovations progress, we'll be able to bring air-conditioning to new areas."
Over the last three years, the MUHC's engineering team has undertaken three other major projects at the MGH:
- The renovation of two mechanical rooms in the E wing, fifth floor, which included the replacement of air treatment units that were 50 years old (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning)
- The renovation of two mechanical rooms in the C wing—eighth and ninth floors—that serve the laboratories of the Research Institute (RI-MUHC). This involved the replacement of air treatment units that date back to the 1950's (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) and is still currently underway.
- Replacement of the air-conditioning units in the computer server room of the MUHC using some of the equipment taken from the old Royal Victoria Hospital site
According to Mr. Ajam, who is also consulted whenever a problem, change, addition or connection involves electromechanical equipment at the MUHC, there is still a lot of work to do involving the infrastructure of the MGH.
"We've only redone four mechanical rooms; there are eight more to go," he says. "These are the kinds of jobs that often go unnoticed, but they are absolutely necessary for the comfort of the people who use these facilities and the effective and safe functioning of our hospitals' equipment."
The replacement of two cooling units and water towers at the Montreal General Hospital, a major project, was carried out by the MUHC's Engineering Department.
A cooler summer at Lachine Hospital
Over the last six months, the MUHC's engineering team has also carried out two important projects at the Lachine Hospital (LH-MUHC):
- Full air-conditioning of the Camille-Lefebvre Pavilion
- Air-conditioning of the Departments of Pathology, Hematology, Microbiology and Pharmacy using equipment taken from the old Royal Victoria Hospital site. These departments will be completely renovated and air-conditioned after completion of the hospital's redevelopment.