Wilcox Medical Center Emergency Generator Replacement

Wilcox Medical Center (WMC) was in dire need of replacing its 30-year-old backup generators for emergency preparedness but understood the urgency of keeping the center fully operational throughout the process. The team, which included the client, designers, and the contractor, knew it was critical to maintain a fully operational medical facility. The medical center’s 72-bed facility was the first to be American College of Surgeons-verified as a Level III Trauma Center in the state of Hawaii.

Coffman (as Miyashiro and Associates, Inc.) provided mechanical and plumbing systems design, working closely with the lead design firm and general contractor to design and accommodate the system replacement.

The generator system replacement entailed adding a second floor to the existing central utility plant to house the three, new 1,000 kW emergency generators and associated electrical and mechanical equipment. Our team also designed the fire sprinkler system for the central utility plant and the air conditioning system for the electrical rooms.

Coffman’s engineering expertise provided a reliable, energy efficient, and low maintenance solution. The challenges included a site with significant space constraints, providing continuous emergency power to the medical center, noise considerations and minimizing disruption to ongoing medical operations during construction.

Another project challenge was water intrusion. With the new generator system being installed on top of the existing central utility plant, it was important to make sure the older equipment, which was still being used, was kept dry in Kauai’s humid and rainy climate. The project team regularly tracked weather radar reports to stay on top of when rainstorms were expected so they could ensure water was not entering through the new space onto the older equipment.

The new system, with the three new emergency generators, is more effective and efficient and includes a new fuel transfer pump, polisher and upgraded automatic transfer switches. The new generators provide three times the power that the two previous generators furnished to the campus and enable the entire hospital to be powered during outages. The upgrade also accommodates the hospital campus’s future growth with the necessary capacity to support expansions.

To help the community, the two 30-year-old generators were donated to the County of Kauai Department of Public Works, in May 2021, to act as emergency backup units for the county’s wastewater treatment plant.

Photo credit: Layton Construction


  • Healthcare


  • Mechanical Engineering