Constructed from portions of the names of three states, the Delmarva Peninsula contains the entire state of Delaware and portions of Maryland and Virginia. At 183 miles long, and 71 miles wide, the peninsula makes up a portion of the eastern coastline that is hard to miss. There are 1.4 million residents on the peninsula. There is also a lot of beach culture, with two coastlines, and nine of Maryland’s 23 counties can be found there.
In one of those peninsula counties sits the Peninsula Regional Medical Center (PRMC), a subsidiary of the Peninsula Regional Health System, in the city of Salisbury, Maryland. With 292 beds, the PRMC has a history dating back to 1897 making it the region’s oldest health care institution.
PRMC’s Clinical Engineering department keeps the medical devices humming to benefit patients on the peninsula.
“We are a third-party service provider employed by Horizon CSA,” says the department’s director Mark Cornelius. “We have a wide variety of technicians with a good balance. Our technicians spend time sharing their skills and knowledge with other technicians.”
Horizon CSA provides medical equipment maintenance, repair and management services and specializes in biomedical technology services. The company is headquartered in Mooresville, North Carolina. The clinical engineering team has been such an integral part of PRMC, for so many years, that most of their customers only know them as an in-house department. A perception that is a testament to Horizon and the CE team.
In addition to Cornelius, the department is made up of Shop Supervisor Tom Purchase, BMET III John Vaughn, BMET II Ashley Goforth, BMET I Justin Levett, Administrative Assistant Candy Oglesby, ISE V Darrell Jackson, ISE III Lee Solomon and Equipment Technician Brandon Gemeny.
Gemeny’s position handles the checking in of patient-owned CPAPS and keeping the batteries maintained within RFID tags throughout the facility. Purchase specializes in anesthesia, heart lung bypass and ventilators. Vaughn specializes in ultrasound, dialysis and heart/lung bypass.
On the imaging side, Jackson specializes in cath labs, specials, MRI and nuclear medicine. Solomon specializes in portables and X-ray.
“Over 50,000 patients a year receive care at this facility,” Cornelius says. “We also service several family medicine and specialty offices that are part of the Peninsula Regional Health System.”
Everyone on the Same Page
The department is a cohesive unit by following a methodical routine.
“We start every day with a shop meeting. Each tech updates the shop on their current issue, major repairs and vendor info,” Cornelius says.
He adds his own remarks, updates and other things the team should be aware of during the day. He says that after the meeting, techs are dispatched for service and the day starts. The meeting could only take 10 minutes but the meeting ensures that everyone is “in the loop.”
“Our department maintains a close relationship with the employees of the facility. In fact, most employees don’t even know we are third party. Because of this relationship, we are called on for most any question or type of help related to the equipment here. This allows us to minimize equipment downtime and prevent user errors — including how to use, clean and obtain accessories,” Cornelius says.
“We send letters to the department directors every month, to advise them of upcoming PMs on their equipment, and status of equipment after their PM month,” he adds.
Along with keeping each department well informed on equipment status, the CE department solicits feedback from their customers.
“We do an annual Customer Satisfaction Survey that is sent to the department heads,” Cornelius says. “This helps us gauge how well we are doing. We also get a lot of feedback from around the facility on how something can be changed or (mostly) how much they value our service and call outs for certain techs.”
The CE team also gets involved in the procurement process and works jointly with PRMC in obtaining a Pre-Purchase Evaluation Form that must be filled out by every manufacturer equipment is purchased from. After that equipment is added to inventory, the department uses a software program called Sunrise to track and keep maintenance records on it.
“With this software, we pull reports, generate PMs and maintenance repair records. We can easily assign a PM schedule to equipment based on manufacturer recommendation and create a manufacturer checklist on the actual PM work order,” Cornelius says.
Training is tweaked annually.
“Every year a training schedule is created. Many factors play into this process. New equipment or systems coming into the facility, contracts expiring or equipment that would benefit from someone in-house at all times. It could be a new training for a technician or training that builds on existing knowledge,” Cornelius adds.
Projects have included implementing technology that has been widely adopted in recent years. The implementation of an RFID system in 2009 was one such project.
“With over 4,000 pieces of equipment tagged, the process of equipment retrieval, retention and monitoring has changed the structure of the entire medical equipment environment here. Since then, this system has grown to include temperature monitoring and badges that ring emergency to security in target locations of the facility when the button is pushed. This system requires constant maintenance and updating to be accurate,” Cornelius says.
Other technology-related projects have included the transition to wall-mounted VSMs at the bedside and additions for electronic medical records.
“We are heavily involved in the testing of equipment during the migration to EPIC for our patients EMR system,” Cornelius adds.
That migration has stretched resources a little bit in order to keep everything the department does adequately covered.
“The biggest challenge we have had recently is the move from McKesson EMR to EPIC EMR. They interface completely differently and have required extensive testing,” Cornelius says. “Of course, we have the same amount of technicians doing the same preventive and corrective maintenance – and then add all the testing and things become very challenging.”
The department is no stranger to challenges and continues to deliver to meet PRMC’s needs and the needs of patients on the Delmarva Peninsula. They can rest assured that their visit to PRMC will include medical equipment that is maintained by a well-trained and attentive group of professionals.
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