pneumatic tube system: More than 5,000 transactions flow through the system each day.
Thousands of MGH employees work around the clock caring for patients, handling administrative tasks and offering support services. As MGHers go about their business throughout the day and night, another vital hospital system is working behind the scenes -- the pneumatic tube system (PTS). PTS is a pressure/vacuum system used to securely transport light materials on-demand -- such as medication, specimens or blood products -- in cylindrical containers through a network of piping behind the walls. The materials are shuttled to and from inpatient bed floors, the Pharmacy, Blood Bank, Imaging, Emergency Department, Operating Room, and Catheterization, Endoscopy and Electrophysiology laboratories.
"There are approximately four miles of strategically networked pneumatic tube piping throughout the MGH -- behind the walls and above ceilings -- that route to approximately 60 tube stations that are coordinated by a sophisticated bar code system," says Jim Guiry, senior construction manager. "On an average weekday, the system completes more than 5,000 transactions. The high-speed, light-material transport system is vital here at the MGH for timely and safe patient care."
The installation of an "express zone system" over Columbus Day weekend now makes it possible for the hospital's PTS to be connected to the Lunder Building. The installation of the new express zone system was led by MGH Buildings and Grounds and included a well coordinated contingency plan for the transport of items during a period of downtime while the system was being installed. The plan included widespread communications efforts and the use of runners who delivered items throughout the hospital.
"We were successful in completing the installation thanks to the extensive coordination among the supervisors of all of the affected areas," says George MacNeil, director of Buildings and Grounds. "Hospital operations and patient care continued seamlessly throughout the shutdown."
Adds Guiry, "The installation project also included an overall upgrade of the
entire pneumatic tube system. Excluding the existing piping that runs through the patient areas, we installed an additional 6,000 linear feet of tubes. This major system shutdown would not have been successful without tremendous cooperation among the many departments of the hospital."