UCI Medical Center Biomedical Engineering Department members include (back row, left to right) Warren Maralit, Ben Kong, Paul Poplaski, Charles Adams, Gary Moreno, Jesse Lopez, (front row, left to right) Chris Khodaverdy, Michael Villanzuela, Kris Abejo, Jinal Patel, Liz Sia, Jon Correa and Raul Jimenez. Not pictured is Kylie Foster.
In Orange County, California, innovation and cutting-edge technology in medicine is not only practiced; it’s taught. The University of California Medical Center in Irvine is a world-class academic and high-tech center for healing and research.
The center’s biomedical engineering department is comprised of 14 members.
Members of the department include Director Charles Adams, MBA; Operations Manager Jesse Lopez, Administrative Assistant Liz Sia and Business Analyst Kris Abejo, MHA.
The team’s technicians include Raul Jimenez, Warren Maralit, Jon Correa, CBET; Wilson Tan, Ben Kong, Jinal Patel, MCE; Chris Khodaverdy, Gary Moreno, Joseph Rodriguez and Kylie Foster.
The group is responsible for managing the medical equipment at a 440-bed facility with a second medical center planned on the academic campus.
“Today, the number of clinics sits at 15, but tomorrow, it increases. Our model is in a growth mode so it feels like we add clinics on a daily basis,” Adams says.
He says that the University of California’s mission is to “Discover – Teach – Heal.”
“UCI biomed gets involved in every aspect of that mission. Currently, we are supporting equipment (under Institutional Review Board guidelines) that isn’t installed anywhere else in the world. We work directly with the OEM in every aspect of install, operationalizing and maintaining this new technology. We live the ‘Teach’ portion of our mission every day in those quick one-on-one in-services on the nursing floors. We further focus on ‘Teach’ by working with local academic centers for intern placement. We currently have two interns working on our team. They typically spend six months with us and then we help them apply and obtain career positions,” Adams says.
He says that “Heal” is the goal of all medical professionals, and recently, the team was able to support a study and acquisition for new intensive care beds with surfaces that truly make a difference in the patient skin healing process.
“We are an academic center, which does typically draw those with like-type backgrounds to UCI. Almost all of our team members have a degree and three have advanced degrees. We currently are a staff of 14 and soon to be growing,” Adams says
The question of service contracts is reviewed by the director and business analyst.
“The biomed director and biomed business analyst review and complete due diligence for all medical equipment service agreements. There is an internal focus inclusive of frontline equipment users and leadership along with clinical staff in the stakeholder departments,” Adams says.
He says that the internal focus is to obtain the desire of the stakeholders and to understand their satisfaction with previous services.
“The external focus is with the preferred vendor to obtain service options. There is a significant amount of due diligence to be concluded with the vendor but highlights are; review the previous two-three years of service, is there an end-of-life and/or end-of-service date, contract options, vendor staffing levels and locations, parts availability and locations,” Adams adds.
The goal is to bring more of the service in-house.
“Health care as a whole has been dealing with one of the worst pandemics in history. The financial loss is unprecedented and requires all of us in health care to look for ways to save money. We have begun developing a Shared Risk and Reward Fund (SRRF) tool that allows us to right size our service agreements. We will be moving away from more of the full-service agreements to a more in-house model. Hiring skilled technical staff in various modalities to allow our hospitals to manage equipment service/risk in-house,” Adams says.
He adds that the HTM leaders from each UC Medical Center get together on a reoccurring basis.
“Part of our working together is service agreement normalization and options; allows us to go to market as a group opposed to one-off medical centers,” he says.
The team really is on the cutting-edge of new technologies and are some of the first to see these technologies up close. They are also involved in the capital purchase process.
“Because we are an academic center, and in California, it is normal for us to work with OEMs on new technology and beta testing. While there is a burden of time and effort put into this process, the reward for the staff is keeping up on cutting-edge technology in our field,” Adams says.
“Biomed’s responsibility with capital is to bring the facts; cost of maintaining existing fleet, standardization, compatibility and connectivity. Recently, we supported due-diligence with OR integration. Like most medical centers, we had most of the OR suites specialized. The goal of OR leadership was to have each OR suite usable by any specialty. This requires each room to be redundant and available for most any case,” Adams says.
He says that biomed took the role of visiting other medical centers and assessing various OEM offerings.
“After acquisition, we support the project management efforts in getting infrastructure installed. Today our surgical department has much greater flexibility given each room is agnostic,” Adams says.
“Another acquisition biomed has played a key role in, is replacing our fleet of defibs. Biomed facilitated the process of; vendor reviews, stakeholder meetings, technology assessment, support supply chain processes. Once the acquisition has transpired, we will work with nursing, supporting the user training and roll-out into the various departments,” Adams adds.
The team has also been called into action to help manage the surge caused by the pandemic.
“COVID provided not only a need but a requirement for biomed departments to get creative supporting COVID surge needs. Over the last couple of years, we had made a conscious decision to not always trade in older medical equipment. We happen to have saved back 45 of the patient monitors when we upgraded our NICU. We were able to use those monitors, after a software update, in our COVID surge tents,” Adams says.
Away from work, many of the team members participate in local county chapters of CMIA and biomed leadership participates in national conferences.
In Orange County, patients have access to one of the country’s top medical facilities, and the HTM professionals who manage the medical equipment are on a par with the very best.
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