Hospitals often garner recognition for their investment in state-of-the-art technology, quality initiatives or newly renovated interiors. But sometimes, saving time and money, rather than spending it, is just as important to a hospital's growth and success--especially for small or rural community hospitals with limited staff and budgets. Facilities management programs can help these hospitals tighten loose organizational nuts and bolts that often take a backseat to larger clinical concerns.
Streamline work orders
When Chris Hall first arrived at Hamilton Memorial Hospital District in McLeansboro, Ill., the 25-bed critical access hospital, which was using MechanicsMate maintenance management software from CT Inc., was lacking structure in its scheduling processes, especially evening scheduling. MechanicsMate served only as a maintenance reminder, which inevitably meant paper forms were being lost in the shuffle of day-to-day operations. "I needed something that would allow each department to put in a work order on its own computer network, and then send it directly to my computer," says Hall, director of support services at Hamilton Memorial, which is located less than two hours outside of St. Louis.
Today, the hospital uses CWorks Systems' computerized maintenance management system as a scheduling calendar for various in-house work orders. The once sluggish three-copy form system - which bounced paper orders between departments, maintenance and Hall--has been replaced by a speedy Internet filing system that rests at Hall's fingertips. "As soon as I check my computer in the morning I see what all needs to be done. I just print the orders out and give them directly to maintenance," says Hall, who touts the system's ability to reduce the number of time-consuming phone calls he gets from staff. Inquiries about maintenance issues are all accessible via the program. "I used to get contacted every five minutes. So this really saves me the time of having to explain the issues, or the status of orders," he says.
Hall agree that a crucial element of implementing new facilities management programs is developing strong departmental ties throughout the hospital, then making it known to everyone that change will be for the better. Change can breed hesitancy from those unwilling to embrace it, so it's essential to educate staff on the benefits of new facilities management tools. Hospital staff members often see maintenance coming and immediately assume something is wrong, according to Hall. "As maintenance, you've got to somehow change that negative attitude," he says. "I think our biggest asset here at Hamilton is that our facilities staff has a very good relationship with all of the departments," he adds.