CHICAGO (CBS) — Northwestern Memorial Hospital is ranked the number one hospital in Illinois by U.S. News and World Report. Doctors and nurses help to play a huge role in that distinction.
One man, affectionately known as Mr. Tube, works diligently behind-the-scenes of the hospital. He took CBS 2 cameras where patients never get to go.
“We will send 7,200 to 7,500 of these a day,” said Jim Konopka, an engineer at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, holding a carrier that travels through the four miles of tubes that connect seven buildings on Northwestern’s downtown campus.
He says it is like a bank drive-through, but much larger. “We can send a bigger payload. We can put 2 IV bags in here, up to five pounds,” he said.
Mr. Tube took CBS 2’s behind the scenes, from the control center to Grand Central Station, where he showed how the equipment connects the seven hospital buildings.
“We drop out of here and drop to bottom pipes and feed to another building,” he explained. “This one to Prentice, this one to Olsen. It’s quite loud in Grand Central Station. This is our blower to suck carrier back or pressure to push the carrier forward.”
“This is how we get blood from point a to point b, wherever in the hospital,” said Laura Zalewski, Technologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “It’s just quicker, much quicker. No one has to physically pick up blood.”
“One of our biggest users of the tube system: the pharmacy,” Mr. Tube stated. Hospital employees can send drugs directly to patient floors in several buildings. The purpose of the tubes is to get healthcare done faster by simultaneously reducing costs.
There are some 150 stations where hospital workers can send and receive blood, medicine, and paperwork.
A computer makes sure collisions never happen. One of the oddest items ever sent, he said, was a hot dog bun, rushed from the kitchen to a hungry patient.