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In This Issue:
The Shapiro Center at night, and John Seminara in the Control Room.
Between 11:30 p.m. and 7 a.m. most nights, John Seminara sits in an office between Tower floors 6 and 7. The control room operator is surrounded by monitors that signify everything from the landing of a helicopter on the helipad to a loss of power somewhere in the hospital to the temperature of any room on campus.
“I like it; it makes sense to me,” said Seminara in between fielding phone calls from staff throughout BWH and keeping an eye on the various monitors in front of him. “A lot happens in here.”
He’s not kidding. The two flat-screen monitors on his desk show the temperature of every floor and room, air quality, air handlers and other functions. Icons on the screen blink to signify alarms—some routine and others that require follow-up. A hot water pump not working or a high temperature in a room, for example, would trigger an alarm.
“You have to keep an eye on each alarm—there are 30 to 40 per hour,” said Seminara, who previously worked as a mechanic. “Although some are due to ongoing construction, alarms could be something important, like a smoke detector going off.”
They also signify the status of air handlers. In Shapiro, if an air handler goes down, Seminara knows another system will try and compensate. In the Tower and Connors, it doesn’t work that way, so Seminara immediately gets to work with a team to fix it.
During evenings, mechanics are available for emergency calls. “They can assess what’s going on, and then we call a plumber, electrician or whomever we need to fix an urgent issue,” Seminara said.
In addition to the two monitors, on his right, there is an electronic display of the entire pneumatic tube system that informs him of where every tube is going. And on the wall his desk faces, a board displays lights for every generator on the hospital. “If I see a light go on, that means we lost power somewhere,” he said.
To his left, a video monitor signals when a MedFlight helicopter is about to land on the helipad, and again when it leaves. “We need to know because the dampers (vents) close so that we do not get any exhaust from the helicopter,” he said.
Night is a busy time in the control room, but it’s at 5 a.m. that the phones really get going, Seminara said.
“It’s never boring,” he said smiling, as he reached for the phone to answer another call.