By K. Richard Douglas
The Idaho cities of Pocatello and Chubbuck are about four miles apart. Pocatello is the county seat of Bannock County, as well as the largest city in the county. It is referred to as the “Gate City” because it sits at the western entrance to the Portneuf Canyon.
Offering views of this part of southeast Idaho is the Portneuf Medical Center.
“The new Portneuf Medical Campus, opened in 2011, and sits on the hilltop with breathtaking views of the beautiful scenery of Pocatello and Chubbuck, Idaho,” says Robert Milward, CHTM, director of clinical technology management.
Since 1907, the Portneuf Medical Center, an acute care facility, has served the health care needs of Eastern Idaho. The campus is approximately 403,000 square feet and the private rooms do offer incredible views. The facility is accredited by The Joint Commission.
The Portneuf Medical Center Biomedical Engineering Department is a full-service shop with one director, two biomedical engineering technicians and one imaging service engineer. The department is supervised by Sodexo Clinical Technology Management.
In addition to Milward, the department includes David Jones, BMET III; Shawn Conner, BMET I; and Timothy May, ISE II.
“We offer a unique approach to service contracts management. Every service contract is individually managed and evaluated to make sure the hospital is receiving the best value. We work with many of the OEMs, independent service providers and in-house talent to take a holistic approach to contract management,” Milward says.
He says that being situated in Idaho has its inherent set of challenges with regards to parts deliverability, so at the forefront of every contract decision is the ability to service equipment in a timely, effective manner that meets the needs of the patients.
The small biomed team offers their individual areas of specialty to achieve maximum coverage.
“Dave Jones is our jack-of-all-trades. Having worked at Portneuf Medical Center for the last 13 years, he has played a part in the repairs and maintenance of almost every one of the 4,600 assets at this facility,” Milward says.
“His area of expertise is ventilators, but he is exceptionally skilled in the realm of GE patient monitors and networking systems as well as cell saver autotransfusion units and many more,” he adds.
Milward says that Timothy May is their imaging service engineer with more than two decades of experience in the imaging field. He is the first onsite imaging engineer at Portneuf Medical Center.
“Having worked for multiple major imaging companies such as GE and Philips, he brings a wealth of knowledge to Sodexo and Portneuf with his ability to support multiple modalities across multiple vendors,” Milward says.
“We primarily service 90 percent of the biomedical inventory in-house, as well 65 percent of the imaging department. We service everything from ventilators to cell washers and ultrasounds and X-ray equipment. Our BMETS are very skilled and only send equipment out when they absolutely have no other choice,” Milward says.
Milward says that data collection occurs organically on a daily basis.
“The inventory has been combed through multiple times and is incredibly accurate. Each time a device comes through the biomed doors, its asset record is reviewed for accurate, actionable data. Monthly reviews and periodic training ensure accountability and best practices with regard to data collection are in place. When data anomalies are found, the technicians have the autonomy to make necessary updates to reflect any changes or deviations in the current database,” he says.
Working with colleagues in other departments, the team addressed a need to better utilize infusion pumps.
“We recently coordinated the implementation of a process improvement to better utilize IV pumps in the facility. Infusion pumps were a hot commodity to come by and capital requests and work orders for additional pumps were starting to roll in,” Milward says.
He says that previously, infusion pumps were cleaned after each use by clinicians within the departments where the pumps were being utilized. A utilization assessment was completed and determined that the hospital had enough pumps to cover the need. However, the facility’s utilization process needed tweaking.
“We partnered with the hospital’s materials management department, environmental services and the sterile processing department to create a progression where, upon patient discharge, environmental services placed the pumps in a centralized pick up location. Sterile processing would pick up the equipment, clean and deliver to materials management. Materials management would then deliver the IV pumps back to the floors in a designated, clean location,” Milward explains.
“Now, each floor has a designated par-level and resource to contact when equipment levels become low. Materials management will prioritize equipment needs based on hospital needs ensuring that every clinician has the equipment they need, when they need it,” Milward adds.
The Portneuf Medical Center Biomedical Engineering Department has also committed to help solve problems by taking ownership of an issue and seeing it through to resolution.
“In 2016, we decided for every issue, we were going to do everything we could to help and to be a part of the solution. This means that with every issue, and every work order we come across, we are going to do everything we can to see it gets resolved. As a biomed department, our job is to be problem solvers,” Milward says.
He says that most of the time, his team can solve the issue.
“Sometimes we can’t, but it’s our responsibility to ensure proper handoff to the correct resource. For example, if biomed receives an IT work order by mistake, we submit the IT ticket for the customer, call them back with their IT ticket number, and follow up later to make sure the issue is resolved. Closing the loop through effective communication, every step of the way, is how we become the solution for every problem,” Milward adds.
It is that commitment that makes the Portneuf Medical Center Biomedical Engineering Department an invaluable resource to patients and clinicians in southeast Idaho.
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