Hospital Remedies Grease Affliction

Source: Big Dipper•Thermaco, Inc.
A hospital waiting area can sometimes be an intimidating place. After all, it's for people either waiting to be
A hospital waiting area can sometimes be an intimidating place. After all, it's for people either waiting to be admitted or those waiting for news of their loved ones. In short, it should be as non-threatening a place as possible: a place of peaceful repose. But what happens when the placid solitude of the lobby is interrupted by teams of maintenance employ-ees cleaning and sanitizing the floor after a wastewater backup?

This was a recent scene at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, an ultra-modern 250-bed facility in New London, CT. The hospital had experienced backups in its mechanical room on average of twice a month for many years. When one of these backups spilled over into the adjacent main lobby of the facility, the maintenance department knew it was time to act.

The cause of these frequent backups was greasy effluent from the kitchen facilities building up in sewer lines. The hospital serves an average of 1,500 meals per day, generating a prodigious amount of grease and oils. According to Bill Davis, Maintenance Manager for L & M Hospital, the kitchen effluent was creating havoc in the facility's collection system. "The kitchen was being serviced by a 40 gallon per minute manual trap which was cleaned once every shift. This unit was simply too small and inefficient to handle the kitchen flows no matter how well we took care of it. We didn't even have all of our fixtures plumbed to this trap. The kitchen also introduced enzymes into the pipes to try and help alleviate the problem."

None of these preventative measures had any effect on the constant backups plaguing the hospital's collection system. "I estimate we were spending in the neighborhood of $50,000 a year dealing with these problems. This included cleaning and sanitizing the area around the mechanical room, servicing our trap, and jetting out the sewer lines. We had to jet the lines every month at a cost of up to $2,600. In some cases, we had to replace the lines. It also took our staff about eight to ten hours of work to clean and sanitize the area every time we had a flood. "

Around the middle of 1997, we embarked on an ambitious project to eliminate these problems. I spent much time in our kitchens, personally observing our kitchen staff in action trying to determine which fixtures the grease was coming from. In the meantime, we also searched for some alternative interceptor systems to the manual grease traps and biological treatments."

In June of 1998, a Big Dipper W-1000-AST was installed at the hospital. As part of the project, the fixtures that Davis observed to be the major contributors of greasy effluent were re-plumbed to the Big Dipper system. "We haven't had any backups related to kitchen grease since we installed the unit. We're pulling out about 25 gallons of grease per week. We're now in complete control of the grease coming from the kitchens, removing it before it has a chance to get into our sewer lines." And once again, the main lobby of Lawrence and Memorial Hospital is a place of quiet.

Big Dipper•Thermaco, Inc., 646 Greensboro Street, Asheboro, NC 27204. Tel: 800-633-4204; Fax: 336-626-5739.