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Customer Stories

Sentara Norfolk General Hospital


Hospital Needs to Keep Working, So Trane Works Around the Clock

Fire takes out the HVAC system, then summer heats things up.

On a hot Friday morning, a fire raged at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia. When the smoke had cleared, five of the seven chiller plants that served the hospital were victims of the conflagration. With the temperature rising, and the heat index topping out at 105 degrees, the hospital was unable to control the heat and humidity in the building – two absolutely critical hospital needs. But they knew people’s lives depended on the doors staying open – and they weren’t going to let anything, not even a devastating fire, make them turn people away. “Before the fire was out we decided that Trane would be the lead contractor,” said Joe Savala, Norfolk Sentara Facilities Director. “We told Trane we expected to be back on line before Monday morning.” It was quite a challenge—but Trane accepted.

The competition says no way Trane can pull it off.

Trane reacted quickly and devised a plan. First, it was vital to restore climate control to the hospital immediately. They needed temporary chillers and they needed them quickly. Trane’s rental depot in Charlotte, North Carolina was alerted and within 12 hours Trane began delivering 5,200 tons of portable cooling capacity. Within 24 hours all chillers were on site. At the hospital, people were feeling a little better already, "We knew we had made the right decision when the convoy of trucks and portable cooling equipment started rolling in before midnight that Friday," said Savala. Geoff Pierce, Trane account manager said, "Competitors told the hospital that Trane couldn’t pull it off, but our customer trusted us. It was time for Trane to deliver and we did."

A Hospital With a No-Quit Attitude, a Company With No Quitting Time.

Just getting the chillers on site was a monumental task, but for Trane the job was just beginning. To meet the huge labor demand associated with connecting all the units Trane’s technicians worked around the clock. This was after all, not just a local hospital it was also the local children’s hospital and the area’s only trauma and burn center, so our commitment to getting vital people back on the job was unwavering. Within 48 hours, the HVAC job was complete. By connecting the chillers to the hospitals chilled water system, the hospital was able to stay open while the electrical distribution system was rebuilt. And with the temporary chillers running, the hospital’s patients were safe, sterile environments could be maintained, and the weekend’s appointments and surgeries continued as scheduled.


About Sentara Norfolk General Hospital

Sentara Norfolk’s central chilled water plant plant serves Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD) and Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS). Sentara Norfolk General Hospital is Hampton Road’s only Level 1 trauma and burn center and has among the best cardiac and cancer treatment centers in the United States. CHKD serves children with many different medical needs and includes the nation’s largest neonatal intensive care and pediatric care units. EVMS is an educational and research facility that works with local medical organizations to provide students and residents with a broad base of clinical experience.