Pneumatic tube system temporarily replaced

Couriers will safely and securely transport specimens for 10 days

UF Health Shands’ pneumatic tube system weaves underground, between walls and above ceilings,  transporting specimen carriers to and from nursing units, labs, pharmacies and clinical care departments in our Archer Road hospitals. The system will soon undergo renovations to increase efficiency and ensure swift, safe and reliable patient care.

In late April, the tube system will be shut down for 10 days while new equipment and a new control system are installed. During the outage, a team of couriers will circulate throughout UF Health Shands Hospital, UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital and UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital to deliver specimens manually.

Couriers will make rounds 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will stop at each drop-off and pick-up station three times per hour. Designated couriers will be on standby to handle emergency deliveries.

“Over the years the system has been updated, but as our volumes increase and we prepare to add the new hospitals to the system, the only way to avoid long transaction times is a complete changeover of how the system operates,” said Koven Smith, UF Health Shands Facilities Development hospital engineer and project manager. “The new system incorporates special ‘express’ lines for high-traffic routes, such as those under Archer Road and to the core lab, as well as an improved method of routing that will provide faster response when sending items in the system.”

The renovations will update the computer system, which controls the entire transport process — from sending and receiving points, to switches, sensors and waiting area monitoring. The updated system will ensure faster and more efficient transports, even at peak delivery times — 8 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Most of the equipment changes will occur in mechanical equipment rooms. Some work will be near the tube stations, but these minor physical upgrades will not interfere with care.

The pneumatic tube system was originally installed in UF Health Shands Hospital in 1995. It grew as buildings were constructed, patient volumes increased and the need to transport specimens quickly between facilities became paramount. It currently transports 2,800 specimens per day and supports UF Health Shands Hospital, UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital and UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. In 2018, the system will expand to serve the UF Health Heart & Vascular Hospital and UF Health Neuromedicine Hospital.

Managers will be briefed on the changes to the system. Staff can ask managers for more detailed information.