By K. Richard Douglas
While HTM departments across the country had to help their clinical colleagues respond to the coronavirus pandemic, one team in Arlington, Texas showed the value of biomeds in a crisis by taking on an important project that helped prepare the hospital for an influx of COVID-19 patients.
The healthcare technology management (HTM) department at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital were tasked with reopening an unused ICU floor.
The Arlington team of biomeds is part of the central region of Texas Health, which is made up of 16 members covering six hospitals and two surgical centers. HTM Operations Manager Douglas Redwine is joined by lead techs J.R. Martinez, Philip Gutierrez and Jaime Garcia.
The team also includes BMET IIs Thomas Helms, Matthew Mellor, Armando Gutierrez, Sheldon Svoboda and Adrian Rueda.
Other team members are techs with a BMET I title and include Jourdan Coleman, Lorenzo Roque, Cameron Curry, Kerry Snape, Armando Picazo and Stephen Parades.
The department also includes Biomed Coordinators Kiana Poole and Tatum Tietjen.
In addition to Arlington Memorial Hospital, which is a 369-bed acute care facility, the regional team also provides technology management at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hurst Euless Bedford, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton, Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Alliance and Texas Health Mansfield; all acute care hospitals.
The group also provides service to the medical devices in a specialty cardiac hospital and two surgical hospitals.
How does the department deal with service contracts?
“Before an equipment manufacturer warranty expires, we analyze the service history and compare bringing service in-house (assess our techs training, cost for training, hiring, test equipment) versus the service options (OEM full-service contracts, T&M) to determine the most cost-effective and beneficial management plan. We manage the contracts and perform a yearly evaluation to determine the viability of the contract,” Redwine says.
He says that data collection is performed through its integrated CMMS.
“Clinical staff use a web portal to create service work orders using biomed numbers on the device and work orders are assigned to techs. PMs and safety alerts for the system are controlled and generated from our system’s corporate office. Techs are responsible for inputting all the pertinent data on the work orders and uploading attachments of field service reports and invoices,” Redwine explains.
He says that all of the facilities have a high level of integration between biomed and IT.
“Our ITS, MDI, risk analyst and HTM teams work together on various projects to ensure our systems are compatible or can be combined in the future as technology advances,” he says.
Addressing a Crisis
Except for some extraordinary natural disasters like hurricanes, tornados or floods, there are few instances where biomeds nationwide are called upon to address the incalculable consequences of a worldwide pandemic. Hospitals nationwide were staring at predictions of a system overwhelmed with critically ill patients.
As the old saying goes; success is when preparation meets opportunity. The opportunity in this case was to ramp up as many beds for very sick patients as possible and that is what the Arlington team accomplished.
“Last month, with the impending threat of a pandemic surge, the HTM teams were called on to for their medical equipment expertise to support the front-line health care workers. The Healthcare Technology Management team for the Central Region at Texas Health Resources was ready for the task and honored to play an integral role in serving the patients and medical community during this serious state of affairs,” Redwine says.
He says that there were many unique requests as adjustments were made to prepare for a surge, but one of the sites in the Central Region was tasked with the responsibility of helping to reopen a defunct – for over two-years – ICU floor to provide care to COVID-19 patients.
“The project was most definitely a great collaborative effort between many different departments to quickly get the area up to speed, with HTM playing an integral role in successfully completing several urgent tasks in a timely manner to ensure success,” Redwine says.
Redwine says that the HTM team specifically performed an overall assessment to test and determine operational medical equipment for each room, repaired malfunctioning devices, determined needed inventory, cost to make operational and the turnaround time to get the area up and running.
“The team also performed the conversion of anesthesia units for use as ventilators to ensure there wouldn’t be a shortage of vents to care for our patients,” Redwine says.
He says that in less than three weeks, the project was completed, and the hospital was able to successfully meet the demands of housing and serving patients during this critical time.
Beyond their work at the system’s hospitals, the team also represents the HTM field through participation in Healthcare Technology Management Association-North Texas (HTMA-NTX), AAMI and the MD Expo.
Although HTM professionals contribute to good outcomes for patients every day, the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 patients have tested the mettle of biomeds worldwide. At a time when hospitals saw an influx of very ill patients, the HTM profession showed its versatility and readiness.
The biomeds at Arlington Memorial Hospital, part of the Texas Health Central Region team, jumped into action and helped prepare for the very worst. Their efforts, along with those of other departments, put the necessary equipment and repaired equipment into place to be ready for the unknown.
If it were not for a dramatic change in human behavior, that headed off many statistical probabilities, the hospital would have been faced with a difficult emergency. With the help of the biomeds, the situation became manageable.
If the fall brings a second wave, Arlington Memorial and the other hospitals in the region will be prepared.
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