How to Make a Power Transfer Look Effortless

Originally authored by Steve Wilson, Tom Corbett and Luke Chandler, core members of the team working on Dignity Health St. Rose Dominican Hospital-Siena (Henderson, NV)


Anyone who has ever done an expansion or remodel on an active hospital facility knows how challenging it can be. The Dignity Health St. Rose Dominican Hospital-Siena (Henderson, NV) tower team has worked through quite a few of these challenges since the project began in 2012.

The latest challenge for the team — including trade partner Berg Electric, utility provider Nevada Energy and facility personnel — was to change out two existing transformers supplying power to the facility. The replacements were necessary due to additional power demands, resulting from several previous remodels, and additional equipment for the Central Plant expansion project.  The safety implications for the team members, hospital patients and hospital staff members were significant.  Accomplishing this task meant that different portions of the hospital were put on emergency power for extended periods of time over two consecutive weekends.

Implications and Effects  

Since two separate transformers feed the facility, a clear understanding was needed to know what precisely would be affected by each shutdown.  Months of planning included re-cataloging most of the existing panels to verify accuracy and establishing which equipment (and resulting function or area) was going to be affected by the switchover of each of the old transformers.  We learned the hospital would not be able to maintain certain services such as emergency and trauma functions.  Temporary generators and equipment were brought in to ensure these functions were not impeded.  Twenty temporary light towers were placed around the hospital perimeter to retain a safe environment for visitors and staff throughout the shutdowns.  Since building temperature would also be affected, the team researched the weather to plan the shutdowns during cooler weekends so outside air could subsidize the building’s cooling system.  Temporary portable air units maintained temperature limits in areas that house the network, telecommunications and cabling infrastructure.  Of particular concern was the awareness that the facility would be without power redundancy should the existing emergency generator fail.  A second generator could not be tied in with the existing generator to maintain the required power transfer time.  This meant that two separate temporary generators had to be brought in and wired through a temporary automatic transfer switch and then in to the existing gear.  These were just a few of the temporary measures put in place to minimize impacts to the facility.


Roles and Responsibilities

A complete Method of Procedure was put together for each of the shutdowns.  Each was reviewed and modified several times by all members of the team until all areas of concern were addressed.  Meetings were held with members of the construction team, Nevada Energy and facility staff (including foremen) to ensure all parties were on the same page and a clear understanding of what work would be performed by what party and at what point during the process each task would be performed.  Weekly meetings with leaders from each hospital department were scheduled so they had a clear understanding of what to expect during each shutdown.  Safety meetings were held prior to each shutdown to clearly outline safety implications and expectations.


The Result

As a result of all the planning and communication that took place between the various entities involved, it was estimated that the first shutdown would take between 24 and 28 hours to complete and the second between 20 to 24 hours.  Both shutdowns were scheduled to begin at 8:00pm Saturday night on back-to-back weekends.  The first shutdown was delayed by an hour due to an emergency surgery, and the second shutdown started on schedule.  The first shutdown was completed at 9:00am Sunday morning, and the second shutdown was completed at a 7:00am the following Sunday morning.  Both shutdowns were accomplished well in advance of the anticipated time allotted and with no incidents reported by the construction team, Nevada Energy or the St. Rose Siena Hospital staff.

The Design-Build team of Kitchell and Orcutt | Winslow is currently expanding (with a new tower) and remodeling the St. Rose Dominican Hospitals – Siena Campus in Henderson, NV right outside Las Vegas. The $85,650,000 project will be completed by the end of the year. The new five-story tower will bring the number of private rooms to 360. The 220,000SF project includes 28 additional emergency bays and 19 observation beds for a total of 73 patient treatment locations within the emergency department. The expansion also includes six new operating suites, separate entrances for cardiology and cardiovascular services, and expanded space for admitting, nutrition services, radiology, lab, pharmacy, endoscopy suites and other highly utilized outpatient support services.

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