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The Impact of Healthcare Renovations


Healthcare construction projects are no easy task—they come with their own unique challenges that need to be taken into consideration from the inception of a project. Hourigan has worked on multiple of such projects, most of which were fast-track, within an occupied space, and in an active facility. So, what are these unique challenges and how can you navigate them with minimal impact?

1. Focus on patient safety and satisfaction

It’s important to be incredibly vigilant while working in facilities with patients present. Depending on the type of facility and the location of the work, this can be interpreted in several different ways. For example, during work in a live-in memory care unit, workers may need to stop work in certain areas to assist a patient who has wandered into the construction zone and escort them to safety. It is also important to utilize ADA compliant barricades to help keep patients away from potential harm. Working on a timeline that keeps patients at ease is also important, so time projects to work with patient schedules (e.g., replace ceiling tile during the day and replace floors at night). When working in a healthcare facility, it is important to put yourself in the patients’ shoes to ensure that they have a satisfactory, minimally-invasive patient experience.

2. Keep an active facility active

When working on a renovation within an active medical facility, it’s vital that the day-to-day activity of the unit not be interrupted. One of the most vital elements of an active facility is power. It is critical to keep electricity functioning. In cases when it is necessary to tap into critical circuits, chaos can be avoided with careful coordination. Investigate the situation. Which circuits will be affected? Providing the facility with a few weeks’ notice can ensure that they relocate equipment and/or patients and that they increase staff. Although tapping into critical circuits may only last a few minutes, it’s important to prepare appropriately and maintain open and frequent communication with the facility to avoid any major hiccups.

3. Ensure dust containment and infection control

When working in healthcare facilities, containment is critical as it aids in preventing the spread of infection to patients. Having key measures in place—maintaining negative pressure, using sticky mats to collect dust and other particles, dressing out, and sealing ventilation—helps prevent infection and keeps the patients healthy. In some cases, having dedicated team members whose sole responsibility is to ensure that every aspect of the containment is covered and that air filters are clean is necessary. To echo the first point, the safety and health of the patients comes first and foremost.

4. Flexibility onsite

Even when in time crunch, flexibility while working in an occupied space is critical. Work may need to be staggered into phases, and equipment and materials  may need  to be received from facility loading docks during odd hours to avoid peak times at the hospital. In other situations, bags of concrete may need to be brought into the building and mixed onsite. Although it may be logistically difficult, flexibility is just another important factor in assuring patient safety and satisfaction.

While this list is not all-encompassing, it’s important to keep these complexities in mind when planning for work in an active healthcare environment. The well-being of patients and staff is always first priority. Emphasizing the importance of adhering to the processes, procedures, and controls set in place for a healthcare environment is vital for all parties involved to ensure safety and security at the site.

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