When you think of Vegas, you think of the public relations campaign that says what happens there, stays there. There are certainly some exceptions to that rule, and one of them, is the good work done in the Clinical Engineering department at the University Medical Center (UMC). The medical center is the state-designated Level 1 Trauma Center for Southern Nevada. The center is also home to the Lions Burn Care Center.
UMC’s clinical engineering team is an Aramark shop and is headed up by technology manager; Jorge Ramos.
“Aramark assumed responsibility at UMC in 2001 through an acquisition,” Ramos recalls. “The majority of our talented and tenured management group has been with UMC for approximately 20 years.”
In addition to Ramos, who is director of clinical engineering within UMC, the team consists of a supervisor, five BMETs and an ISE II. There is also another supervisor for their equipment distribution department. That department has seven general utility technicians.
The department uses the Aramark iDesk product for data collection. The department members troubleshoot down to the component level, according to Ramos.
“Five of the techs in the department had received their BMET certification in 2013. Eight are members of the Nevada Healthcare Technology Association (NHTA),” says Mike Lane, clinical engineering supervisor, who is also the NHTA’s president. He points out that Frankie Ebiya, another member of the clinical engineering department, is vice president of the association.
Projects in EHR
With CE/IT integration an ever-growing reality, the department has set the standard that reflects their name.
“The clinical engineering field is fast becoming integrated with information technology in many aspects,” Ramos says. “Our team currently operates over 15 homogeneous local area networks. From the installation, implementation, and support; the clinical engineering department has placed a priority on patient monitoring.”
Ramos says that since the implementation of their electronic health records project, the CE department has worked closely with IT to diagnose and prevent issues with data capture.
“One of our BMETs, Zachary Brown, completed a degree in CIT-Networking to help bridge the gap between the two worlds on current and future projects,” he says. “Other key CE/IT projects include wireless networking of our infusion devices, wireless adaptation of portable imaging equipment and assessment of future telemetry architecture.”
UMC was one of the first in the country to pioneer an equipment distribution program, according to Ramos.
“That traditionally was, and still is, handled by central stores group or sterile processing group,” Ramos explains. “We took a program that should have been in the hands of equipment experts, out of those hands, and really maximized the efficiency and effectiveness of that program.”
“We have a computerized tracking system, much like our CMMS, that this equipment is on, and we have a 24/7 crew, so we know and monitor at all times the flow of that equipment,” he adds. “We’re also on top of it when that equipment is broken and funnel that straight to our repair shop. Plus, that helps us in identifying problems with par levels and we’ve maximized that in order to decrease rental costs to virtually, and I’m not exaggerating, down to nothing at this account.”
“By really dialing in and drilling down on those numbers, and establishing true par levels, we’ve also perfected that program. It took it to another level when we began forward stocking,” Ramos says. “The customer satisfaction and feedback, on this program from the nurses, is just night and day from where the program was before. The nurses no longer have to get on the phone asking about where’s their equipment, it hasn’t been delivered or they have something that’s broken. They get something that is a top-notch quality product delivered to them clean. We’re also integral to the infection control process there. It’s just an outstanding program.”
Moving to Smart Pump Technology
“Whenever you talk about a transition of a fleet of equipment within a hospital, such as infusion pumps, and it also involved a fleet of pulse oximeters, that is a huge undertaking,” Ramos says.
The clinical engineering team was instrumental in the request for proposal. It took over two years to work out the deal.
“Now we have integrated that fleet of smart pumps, working closely with the pharmacy, as far as the guardrails on there, working closely with IT and the wireless system, to make sure that we have that working properly. The tagging of all the pieces; now we have a modular system as opposed to before, where you had a pump, you had one unit. Now you have a PCU,” Ramos says.
“We went from 650 pumps; roughly 1,300 channels,” Ramos explains. “We now have over 2,000 pieces that have to be tracked (and) tagged.”
Those pumps are spread out over the five buildings on the UMC campus. The team also provides service to 12 satellite specialty care and clinic locations. One clinic location is 80 miles from the hospital.
The department was also involved in projects to relocate monitoring for telemetry and a chest pain center. They relocated old monitoring systems to areas that didn’t have monitors. Ramos says that the team goes above and beyond with telemetry.
One example he shared is when they were doing a hardware refresh on an old system in telemetry. There was also an asbestos abatement project being done on a floor where a new cardiovascular center was being created. The telemetry room, where 188 channels are monitored by four full-time techs, had to move.
The CE department moved them and transitioned them along with the installation of the new equipment. The department made it seem seamless, despite the construction going on at the time.
“I have to give kudos to my crew, that they have the abilities and skills to do this kind of thing,” Ramos says proudly.
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