By K. Richard Douglas
Atlanta is an impressive city by any measure. It is a foodie’s paradise. It is hard to find bad food in the city’s competitive restaurant market. The greenery nearly everywhere, from mid-town to points north; the beauty of the Chattahoochee river and the botanical gardens surround the city’s skyscrapers and bring nature to many areas.
For kids in the city, who require professional pediatric care, there is a hospital that has treated children since 1915 in the eastern part of Atlanta. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta celebrated a century of care in 2015. The system includes three hospitals with 673 licensed beds, 19 neighborhood locations, the Marcus Autism Center, the Center for Advanced Pediatrics and The Support Center.
Managing the medical equipment needs at this important health care system is the Clinical Engineering and Central Equipment Department.
The department’s director is Anthony McCabe MBOE, MBA, LSSBB. Other members of the leadership team include managers Raymond White and Sonali Kamalasanan, CBET.
The department consists of 40 full-time employees. Clinical engineering includes five senior technicians in Sandra Wiggins, James Bland, Craig Lowe, Emmanuel King and Kalombo Mwamba.
The group also includes four radiology equipment specialists in Toniki Childs, Ellis Harris, Michael Sweeny and Michael Cameron.
Rounding out the team are 14 biomed techs. Central Equipment includes two lead distribution aides and 13 equipment technicians.
The department takes a very methodical and careful approach to service contracts with an analysis of all relevant facts.
“Service contracts are managed through clinical engineering with a very collaborative process, with the equipment-owning departments and our sourcing partners. We have an online portal internally where the end-user departments or clinical engineering may submit the contracts for review, and any deviations must be justified, reviewed and signed-off on by our organizational leadership team,” McCabe says.
He says that this helps ensure that if they are going to cover equipment on an agreement, that they are considering financial stewardship accountability with their stakeholders. It also makes sure that they are getting the appropriate coverage levels based on data of histories and experiences.
“We are always looking at equipment end of life, equipment replacement schedules and how we may best serve the needs of our customers. We work with them on how we may best maximize opportunities to bring more services in-house to help us manage the service and risk,” McCabe adds.
Working alongside their information technology and systems colleagues, the clinical engineering (CE) department has made efforts to keep networked devices safe from cyberthreats.
“We have dedicated full-time employees in both our IS&T department and Clinical Engineering to work on cybersecurity and device integration. We have been integrating everything from anesthesia machines to vitals carts to get data into our EMR to reduce manual workloads from our clinical staff while providing them with the most up-to-date and meaningful data,” McCabe says.
He says the team has great clinical expertise that is helping drive the path for the data integrations and leveraging it for big data and machine learning opportunities for even bigger possibilities.
Future expansion will no doubt keep the team very busy. Recent projects have allowed the team to button down the network.
“We are excited to have a new project dialed up for a 19-story, 1.5 million-square-foot facility that will be named Arthur M. Blank Hospital, which is currently on track to open in 2025. It will focus on cardiac, cancer and transplant services,” McCabe says.
He says that the team just finished a years-long project for medical device security segmentation.
“This was such an important effort to get through, as every day you hear some horror story on the news of a hospital being hijacked and having to pay a ransom of some sort to get operations of their systems back,” McCabe says.
He says that a lot of time and effort went into the coordination of resources and implementing micro segmentation for the medical devices with both their partners in the IS&T department and end user stakeholders.
“The last few months were the last remaining 20 percent of devices that had high complexities and high impact to operations. No matter how prepared we were, there always seemed to be some unknowns out there that made some days not go as well as we had hoped for going into it,” McCabe says.
“A lot of the time, there were things not at all a part of our project that would happen, and directly impact what we were doing. Availability of our equipment for the clinical staff is always priority, so having their involvement as far upstream as possible is critical for success,” McCabe adds.
The future expansion plans are an area where the department has helped to problem solve and provide guidance.
“We have and are continuing to be a primary guiding source for the rest of the organization on planning for our new hospital and how to get there between now and then. There is a lot of planning that goes into a hospital of that size, and not everything can be brand new of course,” McCabe says.
“We are there helping the rest of the organization by being a very strong voice at the table,” he says.
The team is able to assess what might need to be replaced before and after the move, what may wait, what areas will require some creative thought and what might need to be bought now and moved to other locations outside of the new hospital, he explained.
“We all want to be good fiscal stewards, as well as make sure that we stay at the edge of new technologies,” McCabe says.
That fiscal responsibility, along with protecting device information integrity and serving the needs of clinicians, is what allows this clinical engineering team to support the health of Atlanta’s children.
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