About Princess of Wales Hospital

The Princess of Wales Hospital in Ely is a former RAF establishment that opened in 1940 and is a much loved community hospital. The health and care of patients is the hospital’s priority and it is committed to going the extra mile to ensure the safety of its visitors and staff.

The challenge

The ageing air conditioning in the Welney Ward, the hospital’s community inpatient area, and Wicken staff office had been getting more and more inefficient, causing uncomfortably hot temperatures in the summer for patients and staff.

Not only was the existing system ineffective, but it was also very costly to run, which was an ongoing concern for the hospital.

The hospital was unsure if another air conditioning system was the right solution due to the high running costs and its loss of efficiency when windows and doors were open, which was a regular occurrence in these areas due to the requirement for ventilation.

Another important consideration for the hospital was the cleanliness of the air. Its existing traditional refrigerant solution recirculated the air, potentially allowing harmful bacteria to be reintroduced to the areas. Now the opportunity presented itself to install a solution that used fresh air rather than recirculated air, to dilute the levels of bacteria.

The hospital, therefore, decided to look for a solution that had lower running costs, did not use recirculated air and would effectively cool its patient and staff areas to ensure comfortable conditions even on the hottest days.

The solution

EcoCooling’s evaporative coolers offered the obvious solution, as they met all of the cooling and ventilation requirements for the ward and staff office, whilst being a certified legionella safe system.

Following a site survey, a system consisting of two EcoCoolers was proposed. The new system would not only provide 40% more cooling than the existing air conditioning system, but it would also operate at a fraction of the cost. Most importantly being a fresh air solution, there would be no recirculation of air or germs, with both areas benefiting from a continuous flow of cool fresh air even when temperatures outside were high.

EcoCoolers are also a very versatile cooling solution from an installation perspective, which in this instance meant the coolers could be installed on the floor. This, therefore, removed the need for roof work, which helped to minimise construction works. With the only service requirements being access to water and electricity the whole installation was completed without disrupting the patients or staff.

Impressed with the proposal from a cost and performance perspective, the hospital approved the system for installation.

Operationally the coolers will provide a constant flow of fresh air through the inpatient and staff area, with extraction units removing the old air. This supply of fresh air will help reduce bacteria, creating a healthier environment and most importantly, provide cooler, more comfortable conditions for staff and patients on the hottest days.

An additional benefit is that because open windows do not affect the performance of the system, they can be opened whenever needed. This also means suitable internal non-fire doors within secure areas can be left open, which reduces touchpoints, further minimising the spread of bacteria.

The long lifespan of the EcoCoolers also means it will not need replacing as quickly as the previous air conditioning units. This, coupled with the much lower running costs and simple maintenance procedures mean that the EcoCooling system is the lowest total cost of ownership solution for the hospital.

The result

The hospital now has a system that works effectively to ensure comfortable conditions for patients, staff and visitors, even on the hottest days. It is more cost effective to run and substantially more energy efficient than the old system, helping to cut costs and reduce the hospital’s carbon emissions, therefore supporting its sustainability objectives.

Being a fresh air solution, the hospital areas are no longer filled with recirculated air, instead, staff and patients are in a healthy, fresh air environment that is safer as it reduces the risk of infection.

Benefits

Keeps patient and staff areas comfortably cool using a supply of fresh air that has naturally low bacteria levels
Low total cost of ownership solution with lower running costs and energy consumption
Ability to leave doors and windows open without affecting the performance of the system
No need for harmful refrigerants, making it an environmentally friendlier solution

“We couldn’t be happier with the EcoCooling installation in our inpatient ward and our staff area. The solution perfectly supports our Trust’s sustainability objectives, not only is it effective and low cost, it uses fresh outside air to help keep the air clean. It’s an excellent system I think it will become more popular as hospitals look to move away from systems that use recirculation.”

Chris Leonard
Estates & Facilities Manager – Compliance & Technical, Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust

Download your copy of the Ely Hospital case study here.