REGION 7 ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER
Return to Normalcy
As I sit penning my first newsletter to ASHE Region 7 membership, the city is eerily quiet, no traffic, stores and malls vacant; very similar to what we have often experienced on the Gulf Coast after major weather events such as Tropical Storm Allison and Hurricane Ike. However, unlike after tragic weather events, none of us are sure what the COVID return to normal will look like. Elective surgeries are beginning to return to our hospitals, residents are getting out and about, and it appears that the number of COVID infections has perhaps peaked (or slightly declined), at least in the short term. Texas and other areas of Region 7 are working on plans to reopen operations, and it appears that the business world is slowly ramping up. Personally, I am frantically struggling to learn new collaboration software and keeping up with logons and passwords via good old fashioned 3M Post-it Notes!
ASHE has an excellent topical resource library listing various tools and risk assessments to help guide the health care facilities manager in day-to-day operations. I recently excerpted for my team several paragraphs dealing with returning plumbing and HVAC systems back to normal use (post-COVID), and you can read that excellent information by clicking here. You can see the full library of ASHE-developed COVID information by clicking here.
CMS blanket waivers, which ASHE’s advocacy team directly campaigned for, have been published. The waivers may provide your facility with a means to work around a lack of access to COVID patient care units or dealing with service vendors who are anxious about providing testing/inspection with health care facility systems and equipment. However, it is important to note that this waiver does NOT provide a means to postpone or ignore all code-required testing/inspecting. I recommend that you carefully review this with your quality team and ensure you evaluate the various elements of performance within the waiver via a risk assessment. Remember, our mission is to protect the patients and the asset – always.
Operational excellence should still be our primary focus, despite current distractions and disruptions to everyday operations. Now, more than ever, focusing on utility cost/consumption management (Energy to Care, Energy Star), evaluating new maintenance strategies (reliability-centered maintenance) and checking the regulatory boxes should be first in both your short- and long-term department quality goals, all of which directly supports excellence in patient care.
Health care facilities management is a hands-on, full-contact sport. I assume that most of us have strong attachments to our physical environment and people – what is your “new normal” for communicating with your teams? Have you found a particularly good platform or tool to further support your processes, and a tool set that is common to your team and your key vendor partners? Drop me a note with your process, as this is a great opportunity to re-engineer communication and project management skills within organizations.
While you have a little quiet time, or you are home on that mandatory PTO, now would be a fabulous time to study and sit for your Certified Healthcare Facility Manager (CHFM) designation. I noticed while following the My ASHE online community that there are many virtual study groups emerging on social media platforms – take some time, learn something and work on achieving that CHFM designation.
Also, I am able to grant a few CHFM test fee waivers to Region 7 first-time test-takers; so, all you have to invest is your time. If you’re interested in a waiver, please email me to learn more. By the way, check out ASHE’s virtual e-learning library and take advantage of the reduced cost for membership. It’s been a long spring; surely everything on Netflix is a rerun to you by now? Go for it! Do something! Make yourself more valuable to your employer, yourself and your field.
Now is also the perfect time to start pulling together your CV to prepare for ASHE’s Senior or Fellow designations in 2021 or 2022. This is a worthy pursuit which asks us to look back over our career while checking the boxes on the application – and a great opportunity to establish goals and a road map to achieve these career designations. Keep an eye out for the 2021 Senior/Fellow applications. Feel free to drop a note or call me if you want help guiding you through this process – a great capstone for a career in health care facilities management.
Congratulations to TAHFM on their Energy Roundup: big winners this year, including Texas Children’s West Hospital (10.8% improvement), Seton Smithville Regional Hospital (6.7% improvement), and Memorial Hermann Southwest MOB 1 (9.4% improvement). I heard those TAHFM folks “talking up” a Region 7 Energy Roundup challenge. Could be a worthy event – and you can practice social distancing while helping reduce the utility bottom line! If you’re interested, drop a note to me and let’s work on something new for 2020 or 2021.
I have been reading one of the many Henry Ford biographies over the last several weeks – an interesting focus on quality, determination and cost. A quotation attributed to him: “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” I felt this is an interesting parallel to health care facilities management and the quickly changing environment triggered by today’s health care/economic crisis.
I appreciate the opportunity to serve Region 7 as your Board member. Feel free to reach out to me at any time via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next quarter!
Michael. A. Hatton, MBA, CHFM, FASHE
Region 7 Board Member