Penrose Community Hospital
ACEC National 1999 Engineering Excellence Award
WHEN LIVES ARE ONLINE
Colorado Springs, Colorado
The safety and welfare of the public is at the core of all engineering disciplines.
The Automatic Test release system is the result of a continuing effort to
better the standards of critical care systems utilized in hospitals around the
– today and into the future.
Penrose Community Hospital in Colorado Springs considered it an unacceptable
risk, taking their emergency generator off-line for an annual “load-bank”
test. Colorado Springs experiences more than 110 thunderstorm days annually,
ranking second in the nation for lightning impact – an occurrence that
frequently disables utility power, thus requiring generator support for critical
In the event that Penrose were to experience power failure during a load-bank
test, manually switching the test-load off and transferring to emergency power
might have taken minutes – not the 10 seconds required for critical systems.
Engineers at Beaudin Ganze have resolved this potential life-threatening dilemma
with a new and innovative design, the Automatic Test Release (ATR) system. At
the moment power failure occurs the ATR shunt switch receives a notification
impulse from the power supply sensors and instantly dumps the load-bank test
equipment. Simultaneously the automatic transfer switch connects the generator
to life support equipment systems. Engineers proceeded to enhance the system,
designing embedded cables that connect the emergency generator to an exterior
“tie-in” panel that serves both testing and temporary generator
Recognition and publication of the ATR concept will contribute to engineers
worldwide, significant design and practice value that will potentially save
lives. The certified load-bank testing firm recommends the ATR system to clients
that may be adversely affected by power failure. This system satisfies the
stringent requirements for emergency power established by JCAHO (Joint Commission
on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations).
Eliminating power-associated risks to patients on life support, the ATR is
an inexpensive innovation. The system provides substantial cost savings by eliminating
off-hour testing and the need to provide utility power monitoring during load-bank
testing. Replacing exposed testing cables with embedded cables has greatly reduced
safety issues in walkways and stairwells.
The issues are complex – the solution is simplicity. With a little foresight,
planning, and ingenuity, the engineers and contractors were able to work together
to install the ATR with zero facility downtime.
“Colorado Springs is prone to power interruptions as a result of
lightning, switching to emergency power during generator testing was a
standing concern. Beaudin Ganze has provided a consequential solution
that protects our patients.”
Mike Herbst, Centura Health
Penrose Community Hospital, Colorado Springs