The challenges of getting a new facility up and running are many for a health system’s resident biomeds. That fact quickly became obvious to the clinical engineering department at the new Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Fla. The kid-friendly hospital officially opened its doors October 22, 2012. The ground floor features a saltwater fish tank maintained by SeaWorld, and the window washers dressed as elves during the Christmas season.
The hospital has already earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for accreditation. The clinical engineering staff started work there on July 16, when occupancy was officially granted after the end of construction. The department’s manager began working on April 16, 2012, doing lots of planning while waiting on the green light to start setting up shop.
The shop, which the independent service organization TriMedx runs, relies on Janice Demato, BMET II, and imaging engineer Jeff Cannon. Demato joined Nemours in July 2012, after serving for several years in the Air Force as a biomed and a program manager. Cannon joined in September 2012, just a month before the hospital opened its doors. Prior to joining the Nemours team, Cannon worked for 12 years as an imaging specialist at ISOs, for manufacturers, and in other hospitals.
“There were many challenges that where faced, the main one being not knowing what you don’t know,” says CE Manager Justin Smith, a TriMedx employee. There was no prior manager to ask about the site’s history or to warn Smith about common problems. “In a new site, there is no one to ask. You [can’t] rely on previous expertise from the footsteps of your past, or phone your peers to say, ‘Help! Have you ever run into this one?’”
A common problem was in delegation. Smith and his team weren’t sure whether they or the IT department would be responsible for the patient monitoring central station, a system that is highly integrated with the hospital’s infrastructure. “But through perseverance and just raising the question [and] walking through scenarios of service calls, we worked through that and many others, and in the end it was determined to be a hybrid service strategy between us both.”
Getting things right for the kids
Smith is proud of the special hospital where he and his team work. His primary focus is crystal clear. “Well that’s easy — the project that is Nemours Children’s Hospital Orlando. This great organization had a vision to bring a level of child care to central Florida like no other, and my team and I have been able to aid in bringing this great hospital together with great people, with a culture that breeds progress,” he says.
“Our role here is to inventory, maintain and repair various types of biomedical and imaging equipment, but it [is] also the role in which we partner with clinical staff and other support services in order to bring a complete, patient-centric environment. No other project I have worked on can compare to this one.”
“The dedication shown by this team working five to six days a week, 10 to sixteen-hour days, in the months prior to opening the doors for the very first time on Oct. 22, 2012, was amazing. I want to say to them and their families thank you for the support and the sacrifices of time lost in order to make this momentous undertaking of opening a brand new hospital great.”
The efforts by the new department have included not only setting up a new hospital, but also the approximately 3,000 devices totaling over $20 million in the health system that they are responsible for managing.
Smith says he and his team have learned some valuable lessons along the way, such as stocking a new facility with all the necessary test equipment. “In an existing site, the hundreds of techs before you have already purchased that eons ago.”
They also learned the value of getting involved with vendors. “Really partnering with the vendors has been a huge asset. We were able to go back and tell them ‘Hey, the warranty started on the thing when it was received into the dock, but we didn’t open the doors until six months later.’ We had some success with that. Some vendors said that was fair. It hadn’t been used, we’ll go by day of opening.” Smith stresses the importance of asking those kinds of questions. “If you don’t ask, you won’t get it.”
Members of the Nemours and TriMedx management teams helped the biomeds get ready for opening day. Some came from as far away as Jacksonville and Pensacola, Fla. Smith says he will be forever grateful for the support from both institutions.
With surgeries at the new hospital starting on day one, the need to have the ORs ready to go provided some anxious moments. “One of the most pressing things from an equipment standpoint was the sterilizers and washers. We were right up into the week prior to opening and we still hadn’t got the final validations and there were some additional parts needed and it had us on edge. It took some maneuvering,” but in the end was – and remains – a successful grand opening.