Event wrap-up: Fiona Stanley Hospital Site Tour
Written by Peter Spencer
The young water professionals (YWP) sub-committee organised a tour of Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) on Wednesday, 13 September 2017 and about 30 people with a range of interests in the water industry attended, notably several staff from the Department of Health’s (DoH) own water section. The tour was led by Robert Kerrigan and John Pereira from Serco. Serco has the facilities management contract for Fiona Stanley Hospital.
FSH is large with a site population in the order of 4000 people and a complex water network that would challenge any good municipal water engineer to keep running. The hospital uses about 20 ML per year, predominantly sourced from the Water Corporation’s scheme, via a 1.6 ML service tank which provides buffer storage and some level of independence from the Corporation’s scheme. Chlorination and UV disinfection are employed to further treat the water before distribution around the site. The hospital’s water network has been designed with some innovations to reduce demand. Rooftop rain water (supplemented by scheme water) is collected and recirculated in a third pipe scheme for toilet flushing and bore water is used for green space irrigation. In addition to the potable water distribution and the third pipe scheme, there is chilled and heated water distributed for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) purposes throughout the site. There is also a small reverse osmosis (RO) unit providing highly treated water for use in the sterilisation and pathology units. The brine from the RO joins the third pipe scheme for toilet flushing.
Such a diverse and complex water system has its challenges. Not surprisingly for a hospital, management of legionella is of primary focus which largely boils down to an exercise in maintaining a free chlorine residual throughout. The similarity with municipal systems is obvious, requiring the Serco engineers to gain an understanding of system dynamics, chlorine decay characteristics and consider booster chlorination or point of use treatment solutions. The hot and cold supply for HVAC is equally important for the functioning of the hospital and the health of patients. Maintaining operating theatre temperature is a critical function of the HVAC system, as is cooling many of the large medical instruments and equipment (eg. MRI). The Serco engineers have a maximum allowable downtime for these systems of less than 20 minutes. The wastewater system also brings challenges, most notably management of the urine and excreta of patients undergoing radiation therapy. The hospital has dedicated areas for these patients where all wastewater is collected and held on site until the radioactivity of the waste has decayed to below acceptable limits for discharge to the Water Corporation’s sewerage system. The hospital is also not immune to the universal challenge of dealing with inappropriate material being discharged in the wastewater system and system additions like macerators are being applied. Seems like the three P rule needs enforcing even in our newest hospital.
Away from water, power is also another large and complex system to be managed on the site. The hospital primarily relies on Western Power, however, they do have 2 diesel and 2 gas engines capable of sustaining critical systems when the grid is unavailable. Another unique and futuristic aspect is the use of autonomous delivery vehicles which roam the hospital delivering linen and food and collecting waste. These vehicles can do up to 40-50km per day.
Given all this complexity it’s not surprising to learn that Serco have 483 KPI’s in their contract with DoH, many with critical level of service and availability requirements. Serco’s asset management system covers over 800,000 assets and is able to issue, track and record work orders automatically. For critical alarms the system can issue work orders directly to technical staff through a wireless system that knows who is the technician nearest to the problem, with the right skills and tools and a lower priority job that would allow diversion from one task to another more important task.
Overall it was an excellent tour and provided a fascinating insight into what goes on behind the scene in a large modern hospital. Thanks to Aisha Chalmers (YWP WA President) and the YWP committee for organising and thanks again to Robert and John for their informative tour.