Centinela Hospital Medical Center, Inglewood, Calif., recently upgraded its facility, including its standby power system that maintains power during outages, to improve its level of care.

Replacing its backup generator equipment required that the power system meet a variety of local and state building requirements, including the city’s residential noise code as well as California’s environmental and seismic regulations.

Centinela, which has served the Inglewood community since 1924, is a 369-bed acute care hospital offering comprehensive, quality health care including a Level II emergency department, orthopedic care, cardiac services, artery disease treatment and ob-gyn care.

To solve the array of regulatory challenges, the hospital installed two 1,000-kilowatt MTU Onsite Energy diesel generator sets, each powered by an MTU 16V 2000 engine. Because the sets have a 24-hour average load factor of 85 percent, the number of generator sets needed to support Centinela’s power needs was reduced. The new sets increased fuel efficiency and durability over the equipment replaced.

“The 85 percent average load factor offers health care facilities more flexibility for future growth,” says Al Prosser, director of sales, North and Latin America, gas and diesel systems, MTU Onsite Energy, Mankato, Minn.

The hospital’s proximity to an apartment complex created a potential noise challenge. Inglewood city’s sound ordinance requires generator sets to produce no more than 45 decibels of sound (dBA) within 50 feet of the nearest property line.

The MTU generator sets are contained in a rigid structure that allows the units to run with minimal vibration. This, along with a custom enclosure, helped Centinela achieve noise-reduction levels to the sound of a whisper.

Another layer of Inglewood’s noise ordinance is its sound curfew, which lifts every morning at 6 a.m. The noise of the hospital’s original generator sets required Centinela to balance the need of the allowable 6 a.m. startup time with the hospital’s surgery schedule.

Because they couldn’t start the generator sets until the sound curfew lifted, the hospital start time for surgeries occasionally was delayed to avoid risking the flow of electricity to the hospital’s critical equipment. Today, with the new generator sets, Centinela can switch the units on before the hospital begins its daily activities and procedures, contributing to increased flexibility in the power system and workflow efficiency.

Meeting state seismic regulations created another challenge for Centinela. The codes, known as IBC 2009, require all electrical and mechanical equipment supplied to hospitals to withstand a 3-axis earthquake simulation called the “shake table test.” The test violently shakes a running generator to simulate the movements of a real-world earthquake in laboratory conditions.

“The building and the power source have to withstand the rock and roll of the earthquake. When you come out the other side, you want to continue to protect your patients’ lives,” says Stan Horn, director of plant operations, Centinela Hospital.

Centinela sits in an area covered by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, an air pollution control agency that sets smog and water quality standards. The district limits diesel engine particulate matter emissions at 450 milligrams per cubic meter. To meet this requirement, a diesel particulate filter was installed on the MTU engine to increase efficiency.

“In terms of technology, we moved ahead about 50 years in just six months with the new MTU Onsite Energy generator sets. The system keeps our data in perfect order. It’s 100 percent better than our old system,” Horn says. 

Compliance challenge

HOSPITAL // Centinela Hospital Medical Center

NEED // Backup power system that meets city noise, and state seismic and emission regulations

SOLUTION // MTU Onsite Energy generator sets