I recently attended the Health Care Construction (HCC) Certificate workshop in Seattle, Washington. This event, organized by ASHE (American Society for Healthcare Engineering) and WSSHE (Washington State Society for Healthcare Engineering), was directed towards contractors, facility managers and construction project managers in healthcare. ASHE offers many certifications, workshops and education opportunities for different audiences in healthcare. This post will discuss this workshop and a few points I found particularly important (there were many!).
ASHE Health Care Construction (HCC) Certificate Workshop
I found this course very inspiring as I continue with my active role as a project manager for a large healthcare organization. Although I was aware of a good portion of the content, it was a great reminder to review all the different areas we must consider when doing a construction project in a healthcare setting. Each project is unique in different ways. The areas unique to healthcare include infection prevention, fire and life safety, specific mechanical/electrical/plumbing system requirements, medical gas systems, risk assessment and healthcare technology. The course utilized case studies and an interactive approach to encourage participants to think about possible issues that can arise throughout a project. With a large variety of contractors, facility managers and people who work directly for a hospital in the room, it was very intriguing and educational to hear everyone’s approach for predicting and solving issues.
The Importance of Contractor Training
One huge take away from this workshop is the importance of a thorough contractor training process. This will allow anyone working on a healthcare project to understand how and why things are done a certain way. Without that knowledge, it’s difficult to agree and comply with the additional steps that must be taken to ensure patient safety. Another aspect of this is working with the healthcare’s Infection Prevention and Health and Safety group. These departments should be an active resource throughout the construction process.
Codes, Standards, and Accreditation
Having a team that understands codes and standards and how they are applied to your project is crucial. Fire and life safety building codes have very rigorous requirements particular to healthcare that exist for a reason. Codes are also constantly evolving; therefore, your design and construction team should be aware of which codes apply and what that means for how the facility is constructed. Additionally, all heath care facilities require accreditation, which requires on-site surveys by people who understand the codes and standards.
A section of the course was dedicated to healthcare technology. Like every industry, healthcare has become more reliant on technology (wireless systems for equipment, network connections, etc.). The requirements specific to healthcare (electrical, mechanical, coordination with other trades, spacing requirements, etc.) must be considered during the planning and construction process.
Although some of the approaches and precautions required for a healthcare construction project can seem daunting, the important thing is to remember why this approach is necessary. The entire team should have the same priority for ensuring a successful project – the safety of the hospital patients. I would like to emphasize how important it is for the team to work together. Each member has something different and important to contribute.I highly encourage any contractor who works in healthcare to attend this workshop if you have an opportunity.