In Case of Emergency
For those in the healthcare facilities management realm, time is everything. At a traditional multi-site facility, loss of power or a plumbing issue can create a minor disturbance in operations. But in a hospital where people are incapable of self-preservation, much more is at stake. The newly established ConnexFM Healthcare Council plans to address the codes and regulations specific to healthcare facilities — including emergency responses and best practices for facilities managers (FMs) to be more proactive.
ConnexFM Healthcare Council
Kathy David, Core States Group
Myriah Kingen, DaVita Dialysis
Joshua Brackett, Banner Health/ASHE Faculty Member
Bruce Falke, Commercial Fire, LLC
Rachel Partridge, Concentra
Tony Pandolfo, Engie Impact
Robert Blakey, FM College, Inc.
Kenneth Jones, Heartland Dental
Joseph Fairley, Laser Facility Management
Joseph Brothman, UCI Health
Chris Nigro, Walgreens
LB Johnson, Walmart
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Compliance is a major pain point for healthcare facilities management professionals, which is why Joseph Fairley, Vice President of Business Development at Laser Facility Management and
one of the leaders of the Healthcare Council, wants to see increased engagement from ConnexFM membership. “We’re reaching out to the multi-site community saying, ‘We would like more of you from healthcare environments to come in and join us’ because we’re stronger with more expertise and experience shared,” he said.
In many instances, lives are at stake when a building system fails or has an interruption at a healthcare site, so they can be more complicated to manage than a traditional multi-site facility. It is necessary for FMs who are managing these kinds of facilities to stay on their toes, constantly ready to handle any unexpected circumstance.
The needs of a healthcare facility can vary by type. For healthcare facilities like hospitals, remaining operational at all hours of the day is critical for providing adequate care. Doctors are performing planned and unplanned surgeries, caring for people in the intensive care unit, delivering babies, and providing important medical care at all hours of the day. The care that hospitals provide does not end, so it is imperative that an emergency plan is prepared and in place in case something goes wrong.
Joshua Brackett, System Regulatory Director at Banner Health and Co-founder/Chief Learning Officer at Legacy FM, has years of healthcare facility management experience and will be helping to lead this new Council. He reflected on a time he worked at a 1.5 million-square-foot hospital, where one day the generator failed and was off for seven minutes. “It was the middle of the day, and we had people in the middle of surgery,” he said. “Luckily, everyone did exactly what they were supposed to do, and nobody died, nobody was injured.”
That experience showed him the importance of having a well-trained and empowered FM team that is ready to respond on the fly. FMs should constantly be running through potential scenarios with their staff, asking them: “What would we do if XYZ were to happen?” Both the FM team and healthcare staff must be knowledgeable of protocols and work together in times of turmoil. Quickly resolving issues is paramount for managing any healthcare facility. Time is of the essence and can be the difference between life and death in hospitals.
Watch Joshua Brackett on The Daily Grind
Circumstances can be less critical at other healthcare facilities — like dentists’ offices, for example — but response time remains important. “Speed is everything,” said Kenneth Jones, Director of Facilities at Heartland Dental and Healthcare Council leader. “We’re answering the phones and getting someone to dispatch to that facility within 30 minutes.”
The importance of having a plan for almost every possible occurrence cannot be overstated. Hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid funding are audited by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services or an authorized accrediting organization, such as The Joint Commission, and have a set of federal laws that must be followed, Brackett said. “We have to have a plan in place for continued hospital operations for 96 hours. And that means for all of our utility systems,” he said. “I don’t have to have 96 hours worth of water on hand, but I have to have a plan for how we are going to provide water. What are we going to do, and how would we obtain all types of water [white/gray/black] needed in the event of an emergency?”
Being trained on a wide array of facilities issues while continuing to learn codes and regulations is key to handling these types of situations. This will be one of the most important things that the Healthcare Council will aim to emphasize to FMs while providing the necessary knowledge. “Whether it be water damage, mold or fires, it really is about having additional training and understanding the steps that it takes,” to go above and beyond the bare minimum, Jones said. “We learned with COVID-19 that everything’s changing all the time, and different states have different regulations. You have to have a base knowledge, but continuing education is vital to being an effective FM.”
Fairley has more than three decades’ worth of FM experience and confessed that he still feels the need to continue educating himself every day that he’s on the job. He explained that he’s constantly checking to see whether there have been any changes, developments or news of best practices that he could share with his clients.
“Healthcare multi-site facilities have an enormous number of regulatory bodies that are looking at them and the processes and systems that they have to service their clients,” Fairley explained. FMs must remain informed and up to date because of this, but continued education does not need to be formal. Simply having conversations with peers and taking their knowledge, insights and experiences counts, too.
Jones mentioned that in addition to completing your duties as an FM, it’s most necessary to establish a genuine understanding of your customer and their concerns. While something may not seem as important to you as it is to the customer, you should not make them feel that their worries are unwarranted. “Small water damage may be an emergency to them. Even though
we may think, ‘Oh, you have a couple wet ceiling tiles, or you have some wet floor,’” he said. He urges FMs to match the urgency of their customers in all situations.
Compliance, Rules & Regulations
The compliance process for healthcare FMs can be tedious and complicated, with pages of documentation. Joshua Brackett, System Regulatory Director at Banner Health, said that he has well over 50,000 pages of code on reference because he serves as the codes and regulatory compliance expert for his entire healthcare system. There is an array of organizations and government agencies that healthcare FMs must work with to ensure their facility is up to code. Joseph Fairley, Vice President of Business Development at Laser Facility Management, explained that often, inspection bodies are dependent upon whether a particular healthcare facility receives municipal, state or federal funding. Just a few of these regulatory organizations are listed below:
· Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
· Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
· The Joint Commission (TJC)
· Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
· State/Local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ)