Charlotte, North Carolina is a bustling city of 810,000 people in the southern Piedmont region of the state. The metro population is more than two million. Its residents are attracted by its central location and an affordable cost of living. It is home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Charlotte Douglas International Airport, one of the largest in the nation.
Novant Health is a major provider of health care to the people of Charlotte, as well as throughout North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia. The health system includes 15 medical centers and 1,514 physicians.
Novant’s Presbyterian Medical Center main campus in Charlotte is part of the Southern Piedmont Region of the health system. The medical center has 622 beds. The other area facilities that are part of Novant Health include 147-bed Novant Matthews Medical Center, 91-bed Novant Huntersville Medical Center, 72-bed Novant Charlotte Orthopedic Hospital, 5-bed Novant Brunswick Medical Center and 227-bed Novant Rowan Medical Center. There are also 110 physician practices sites.
The Clinical Equipment Management Program (CEMP) that provides management of the health system’s 30,000-plus pieces of medical equipment includes a director, two managers, 12 imaging engineers and 23 biomedical technicians. The program operates under the health system’s shared services operations known as Adept Health.
Leadership in the department includes Director Paul F. Strachan, Mark Ramsey, imaging manager, and Jeff Hogan, biomed manager. Ramsey is a 19-year veteran of the department. Hogan has been with the department for 11 years.
The department attempts to keep most work in-house and contracts roughly 10 percent to vendors or third-party companies. They keep some often outsourced services in-house and provide services to outside entities.
“We also have an internal lab for flex/ridge scope repair, instrument sharpening, and corporate biomed bench techs that service the high-volume equipment: EG infusion pumps, SCDS, tocodynamometers (tocos), located at the Novant Logistics Center in Kannapolis, North Carolina. We also provide service and support to imaging centers not attached to the facilities, and provide clinical equipment shared services/consulting to facilities outside of Novant,” Strachan says.
The department’s CMMS receives work order requests through text messages, pagers and laptops. Requests that go to team members must be accepted. If not, the request is escalated through back-ups first, and then to management, to ascertain that customers are satisfied.
The team also has a close working relationship with IT, including during construction projects.
“Developing relationships with key members in the multiple silos of IT is essential and needed in order to best service our customers,” Strachan says. “We have two Biomed Medical Device Integration team members that act as the liaison between the patient care equipment and the EMR-Epic (IT). They are responsible for the set-up (hardware) and troubleshooting of communication issues going to the middleware-Capsule.”
Internal Involvement and Outreach
The CEMP team members are active participants in every phase of equipment management and procurement. They have also brought their experience and training to projects outside of their facilities.
“We are always at the table for inclusion of the planning and logistics for all new and existing construction projects. We are currently working on the Novant Charlotte Orthopedic Hospital remodel/ additions and the new Novant Hospital in Mint Hill, North Carolina,” Strachan says.
“Patient monitoring and its network can be complex in its understanding and we’ve recently been involved with nursing to help them build the business plan for updating the patient monitors at all the Novant facilities. This includes the need to improve and update the devices that provide secondary alarm messaging to output devices the staff carry. They rely on us to help them understand what is needed to help them with their business case,” he says.
“Every year we are included in the decision process in determining what imaging equipment needs to be replaced and the priority order for this. We are also currently involved in providing data and our input on replacing all the aging anesthesia machines as a mass buy,” Strachan adds.
The team has even been involved with the support of the medical equipment for a more atypical patient.
“We have taken on and supported the Carolina Raptor Center which provides health care and rehabilitative service to injured birds of prey with the goal of returning them to the wild, while educating the public,” Strachan says. “[We] have been able to provide equipment and service on the medical devices.”
Another way the department members give of their talents is to help underserved populations.
“We encourage our team members to get involved and help serve others. [We are] currently working with an ortho group that helps provide surgeries in Guatemala. Past involvement with Operation Smile missions as well,” Strachan says.
The CEMP team also helps out at a local community college through the shared experience of team members.
“Currently we sit on the advisory board for the biomed program at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC). [We] help to provide direction for developing the educational program and internships. Our biomeds will often speak with the students, giving them a facility tour, and talking about their responsibilities and their view on the biomed field as a career,” Strachan says.
“I believe our biomeds are great ambassadors for this. Students really seem to appreciate the out-of-classroom experience. We believe this is a great motivator in helping students achieve their goal,” he adds.
In the problem-solving department, the team has employed resourceful thinking to save their employer a lot of money.
“One recent issue that comes to mind was our involvement in the telemetry monitoring unit (TMU) at the main campus that monitors patients at five Novant facilities. The department needed to reorganize their workforce to meet up with the demand and equipment availability. Based on their understanding they were prepared to order additional monitors not knowing that they could redistribute the monitors in such a way to prevent the ordering of additional monitors to the tune of $500,000,” Strachan says.
“You could say they were ecstatic when the biomed department was able to guide them through the process that met their needs and saved them dollars,” he adds.
The department is also an active participant with the North Carolina Biomedical Association (NCBA), attending the annual symposium and classes.
As great ambassadors of Novant Health, and the HTM community at large, the Adept Health Clinical Equipment Management Program team puts a positive face on medical equipment management.
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