Before the end of the year, Licking Memorial Hospital (LMH), located in Newark, OH, expects work to be complete on a sophisticated new data center that will provide additional assurance of system availability, including patient information databases, the hospital announced. The opening of the data center follows another LMH investment in high-tech backup electrical generators to address patient safety issues.

“The new data center is a proactive solution to the massive amounts of digital information that have become common in health care today,” explained Sallie Arnett, vice president, information systems. “We had outgrown our former data center, and saw an opportunity to upgrade the technology. We spent a considerable amount of time designing in multiple layers of redundancy, for both data and electricity, so that if one component should fail, our patients’ medical information is always available for their physicians’ use.”

“Our new data center is definitely one of the most advanced in central Ohio,” Sallie added. “The level of technology and redundancy we are using is at, or above, what would typically be found at other major data centers such as Microsoft, Google or in the banking industry.”

LMH has two electrical systems that are activated during the event of a power outage – the uninterruptable power supply (UPS) and generators. The generators are activated automatically if the normal power supply lapses, creating full power within 10 seconds. In the meantime, the UPS is designed to activate immediately upon a power failure until the generator power begins. The UPS system ensures a continuous flow of electricity, so that there is no discernable loss of power to any of the Hospital’s appliances, computers or equipment.

In 2010, LMH enrolled in a program designed to protect the electrical transmission grid, called Demand Response, managed by PJM, a federally regulated non-profit organization that oversees the grid in a 13-state region. Demand Response is a voluntary program where large energy consumers agree to reduce usage from the electrical transmission grid at times of peak demand. During a test of its system this past summer, LMH was able to reduce its consumption of electricity off the grid by 99.7 percent while running on power supplied by its three 1,500 kW backup generators.

“Some people may remember the massive Northeast Blackout of 2003 or the widespread power outages from a winter storm in 2004,” said Rob Montagnese, president and CEO, Licking Memorial Health Systems (LMHS).“LMH was able to maintain full power during those events. The power outages created a dire hardship for patients who did not have power at their homes, and needed electricity for their care, such as oxygen therapy. LMH was able to offer refuge to those patients, in addition to caring for our inpatients. Those experiences really showed how much the community is dependent upon us to have backup systems, and we began working toward the improvements that we now have in place.”

Rob continued, “Although it has not happened in our area, it is possible that extremely high demand for electricity during the hot summer months could strain the local power grid. With our robust backup generator system, LMH has the ability to separate from the power grid and free up enough electricity to power 2,500 homes, if needed. We want to help protect the stability of the community’s power supply because it is an extension of our attention to our patients’ safety.”

LMH’s generators operate on diesel fuel. They are tested weekly to ensure they are working properly whenever they are needed.