Elmbrook Memorial Hospital


RTM Engineering Consultants is providing electrical and mechanical engineering services for Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare’s Elmbrook Memorial Hospital in Brookfield, Wisconsin. The project includes equipment upgrades to the hospital’s essential electrical system (EES). This system, which consists of alternate power sources (generators) and all the connected distribution equipment (transfer switches, panel boards, and switch boards), ensures continuity of electrical power to designated areas of a healthcare facility during disruption of normal power sources.

Elmbrook’s generators were connected via manual transfer switches, which required maintenance personnel interaction if a generator failed. This greatly increased the risk that power would not be available to critical and life safety loads in a timely manner—code requirements state that if power is lost, alternate power source should be restored in 10 seconds to critical and life safety loads. Because of the system set up, it could take 10 to 20 minutes or more to manually actuate the switch, potentially putting patient safety at risk.

To minimize the risk to patient safety and provide better load management, RTM’s design replaces the four standalone generators with two new 1MW EES sources synchronized to a common paralleling switchgear bus. Synchronization is automatic and does not require maintenance staff interaction, creating a more immediate response if disruption of normal power occurs. Additionally, synchronizing two new 1MW units increases the available redundant power to 1MW. This would provide redundant emergency power for a maximum of 500,000 square feet and feature the following benefits:

  • Maximize utilization of emergency power
  • Increase available capacity
  • Provide for future expandability
  • Allow for proper exercising of generators
  • Simplify JCAHO reporting

A central paralleling switchgear also allows for the installation of five to six centralized automatic transfer switches that would replace the 18 currently scattered throughout the facility. By centralizing the equipment, RTM’s design will help the hospital in reducing maintenance cost and minimizing risk of mechanical failure.

To upgrade the hospital’s EES without compromising patient safety, RTM’s team of engineering experts developed a detailed phasing plan and reviewed each phase with the staff so they understood the impact on operations and patients. RTM utilized its extensive experience with building information modeling (BIM) software and technology, including Revit, to increase coordination among internal and external teams.

The project is set to be completed by June 2017.