What happens in the basement of a hospital? Check out our vlog at Academic Medical Center GroningenArticles . Blog
Today I’m heading out to Groningen to visit the Academic Medical Center An institution that has been working with MaxGrip for over 17 years. I’m curious to see how this intimate, long-running relationship has benefitted both parties. I’m currently at the site office behind the Academic Medical Center in Groningen, where they’re building new operating rooms. We’re about to take a sneak peek, but: safety first. This means wearing special shoes — these bad boys — and this familiar piece of headwear. I like the way yellow looks on me, though, so I’m OK with this. We started construction by sheet piling. To facilitate that, we needed to drive piles into the ground. So, naturally, we needed a pile-driver for that, but there was one problem: the machine didn’t fit into this space. So we disassembled the entire pile-driver, brought in all the parts, and reassembled the machine on the inside. Right now, we’re trying to find a similar solution to get a crane in here as well, as… that excavation pit right over there is blocking access. What we’re probably going to do is build a huge crane outside, which we’ll use to fill this structure with containers. Then afterwards, we’ll put a crane on top of those containers. But you have to get that thing out when you’re done, right? Yeah, we have to get that thing out eventually. That’s going to pose an entirely new challenge. But that’s why we’re always leaving an open spot: to get stuff back out. Which, of course, we’re going to need an even bigger crane for. But that’s the nature of this job: it’s constantly having to deal with challenges. You can’t just start constructing things; you need to think multiple steps ahead all the time, regardless of how big or small the task at hand is. And all while trying to be as quiet as possible, because, don’t forget: they’re operating on people in there. I’m currently underneath the hospital, and I’m here with Jacques — with his dashing blue shirt — and Marcel. Tell me, gentlemen, what do you do? I’ve been with the UMCG for over 20 years, and I’m in charge of planning. So if a department wants to, say, renovate, I’m the guy who sets everything up so everything can run smoothly. We just saw the construction site where the new operating center is going to be, right? Well, before everyone even started any actual construction, I was having meetings to plan everything out. I talked to a lot of different people to get a good sense of what everyone wanted out of this new operating center. And that eventually translated to sketches and drawings. This is roughly how every new construction gig starts out. That’s my job in a nutshell. – Marcel? And I’ve been working for MaxGrip for about 17 years now, which means that I’ve also worked with the UMCG for about 17 years. A few minutes ago we were in a room with a lot of tubes and pipes — don’t forget that I’m a layman, so excuse me if this sounds oversimplified — and while I was looking at the gauges and valves, you literally said: “This is the world of MaxGrip.” What did you mean with that, exactly? Well, the thing is, there’s a not a lot to see when you look in a room like that. And that’s a good thing. After all, places like hospitals aren’t very keen of direct change, if something in this building gets changed on a technical level, it can have an immediate, perhaps even detrimental effect to the care that is being provided in the hospital. So if you look in a room like that — a look behind the scenes, if you will — and all the tubes and pipes are in pristine condition, and there’s nothing else going on, you know that everything is running smoothly throughout the entire facility. And that’s where MaxGrip comes in: it’s their “world” because they help us ensure that everything keeps running at a steady pace while preventing unforeseen malfunctions from happening. Risk analysis helps prevent nasty surprises, regular maintenance keeps everything in tip-top shape, and construction is always done with maximum responsibility in mind. It’s not something you really think about, but there’s a whole world underneath the hospital; a space where a whole slew of technical processes are constantly taking place Power management, water management; you name it. It’s all here. The two of you have been working together for such a long time… Is it safe to say that you almost couldn’t live without each other? Well, I don’t know about that, but I can say that our long-lasting collaboration has been a very smooth one. There’s a lot of trust here, and that takes the pressure off. It’s this trust that really shines through during the few instances that things may not go as planned. We can say that, most of the time, we run a very tight, successful ship, but every now and then something happens that isn’t supposed to happen. And that’s when we trust each other to find the right solutions, and it always turns out great. So, yeah, this is a relationship built on trust, and that’s the most important thing to me. We’re still underneath the hospital, in the so-called ‘serum archives’s. I’m surrounded by all kinds of refrigerators and freezers, to put it a bluntly, and they’re all filled with small tubes and samples. Did I get that right? Can you expand on this? This is a very important part of the UMC, which is academic in nature. Hospitals that aren’t connected to a university don’t really do a lot of research, but here we have a lot of researchers who are constantly trying to push the boundaries of medical care. This freezer is reaching a temperature of around minus 80 degrees Celsius. It holds the samples and test results of a variety of rheumatic patients. And, let me tell you, minus 80 degrees is quite chilly. So these serum archives are used to store all kinds of samples. These samples eventually go back to the researchers, so they can observe the changes that have occurred over time. Changes in blood levels, for example. This information is where a lot of our research is based on. Speaking of risk analysis: we’re surrounded by dozens of freezers. What if there’s a power outage in this exact area? What happens then? First of all, we never put all the samples pertaining to one research in a single freezer. If we’re researching something, we always store the samples in at least two different freezers. So even if one freezer breaks down completely, we’ll always another batch of samples that we can work with. And what about auxiliary power units? And we have auxiliary power units to back us up as well, yes. They’re capable of providing the entire hospital with power, if needed. In the unfortunate event of a power outage, we have all of this to back us up. And no, none of these auxiliary power units are currently running; the sound you’re hearing is all caused by cooling fans. Trust me, you wouldn’t be able to hear a word I’m saying if all these red bad boys were turned on right now. Let’s conclude our day by paying a quick visit to the UMCG’s helipad. This, of course, is where the emergency helicopters land, and where patients in critical condition have to be rushed into the emergency room. The last thing you’d want, is to be stuck in the elevator as the result of a technical failure or power outage. Luckily, risk management takes all of this into account.
Written by Clay Rohan
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