On a recent visit to the Montreal General Hospital (MGH) I noticed on the wall an old pneumatic tube station, no, not like the London Underground. If you’re not familiar with the concept, pneumatic tubes, or capsule pipelines, are the system that department stores once used to send money to and receive cash back from a central cashier.
Mind you, when you think of tubes in hospitals these message systems may not be the first things that pop into your head, or up your nose for that matter.
They have been in use since the mid-1800s playing an important role in moving small items from one place to another in many settings including factories and hospitals. Mind you, when you think of tubes in hospitals these message systems may not be the first things that pop into your head, or up your nose for that matter.
Looking a bit like something from a Jules Verne novel, the old tube station in the MGH pictured above is located behind a locked glass door to make sure only those trained get their hands on it. The photo on the right is a modern version.
The new health centre will be so vast that materials will sometimes have to travel distances of 1,000 feet and many stories up or down.
At first I thought that with the Internet age the pneumatic tube would be a thing of the past. Emails and texts offer instant communication over any distance, but I was wrong. The Montreal General Hospital is part of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and as such will be relocated to a new, state of the art, abode once construction is compete. Will they be retiring the tube system for a more modern method? Nope. In fact according to a hospital newsletter a magnificent pneumatic tube network is being built into the new building.
The directions above are posted (in both French and English) at all tube stations.
With an estimated 5,000 transactions per day, the tubes will carry blood, medication and emergency items to medical professionals.
The new hospital will be a cutting-edge academic health centre filled with the latest and most modern equipment to improve both work flow and the delivery of care to patients. Among these innovative pieces – and probably the largest one of all is the pneumatic tube system.
With an estimated 5,000 transactions per day, the tubes will carry blood, medication and emergency items to medical professionals. The new health centre will be so vast that materials will sometimes have to travel distances of 1,000 feet and many stories up or down. Therefore pneumatic tubes will help deliver critical items, medicine and even blood quickly.
Below is a picture of the new MUHC pneumatic tube system.
Users can even program the pneumatic tube system to prioritize certain capsules that need to be received or analyzed quickly; the system can then slow the progress of all other deliveries to prioritize a specific one. Only authorized personnel will be able to use the pneumatic tube system.
The directory pictured below was last updated in 1984, and appears to have been created on a typewriter …
So, as the saying goes, until someone invents a better mousetrap …