Blog / Focus: New Construction

Common Myths In Healthcare Construction Management

By Mike Wood / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today
September 28, 2020

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Hospitals in the U.S. need to work constantly to provide high-quality care to patients and stable support for staff. Hundreds of thousands of people walk through a healthcare facility’s halls daily, relying on the facility to continually function at optimal levels.

Ensuring this exceptional care is achieved all day, every day requires a myriad of moving parts. Doctors, nurses, receptionists, MRI and X-ray machines, computers, HVAC systems, and more must work together to ensure all members within an organization are kept healthy, safe and comfortable. Construction management provides the foundation - literally - for these moving parts to thrive and support patients and staff.

Every healthcare profession has its own set of myths, and the healthcare construction industry is no exception. Learn the truth about the four most common healthcare construction management myths:

MYTH #1: Healthcare construction is easy.

It’s a healthcare construction manager’s job to make building a hospital look easy. In reality, healthcare facilities are the most complex types of buildings. The acute care provided by these facilities requires a wide range of spaces for different types of service. Construction managers must build emergency departments, operational centers, patient rooms, laboratories, food service, housekeeping areas and more to create a functional healthcare facility. Additionally, specialized expertise in electrical, mechanical and telecommunications systems are required of construction workers to keep up with the ever-evolving functions of a hospital. 

Healthcare facilities are also the most heavily regulated buildings. As with all construction projects, each structure must be up to code, complying with local and/or state general building regulations. What makes healthcare construction even more complex, however, is that they must follow federal regulations, too. The Facility Guidelines Institute,as well as standards set by The Joint Commission and OSHA are put in place to protect public health, safety and welfare. These regulations keep our patients safe, but keeping track of them can be incredibly challenging.

MYTH #2: Healthcare construction managers stumbled into the profession.

Don’t believe the negative stereotypes of “construction workers.” Most individuals in the construction industry are highly educated, licensed and registered in a multitude of related fields, especially in healthcare construction. Many are educated architects, general contractors, HVAC specialists or professional engineers, and they all got their start somewhere. In fact, some healthcare construction managers will tell you that they’ve had a family member who was greatly affected by a healthcare provider, and they decided to turn that compassion into a profession.

Extremely skilled and specialized in their career, healthcare construction managers and workers must go through rigorous training to gain the experience necessary to work on a healthcare project. To keep employees up to date with compliance standards, organizations will often place a large emphasis on routine trainings and workshops. Whether it be a webinar on 2020’s healthcare construction trends or a refresher class on Life Safety Code, construction employees and managers are always working to improve their craft.

MYTH #3: Healthcare construction managers are “just a bunch of construction guys.”

Healthcare construction managers wear many different (hard) hats. One minute, they are collaborating on blueprints with the hospital’s owner, the next, they’re guiding HVAC ventilation placement and advising on window seals. But when a manager goes to the construction site, they’re not just another construction guy - they’re both a representative and an advocate of the new facility being built.

Each healthcare construction manager serves as a professional representative of the new facility, acting as a liaison between the hospital’s owners and the construction manager’s team. Great leadership skills are required as managers become an advocate of the new facility throughout the planning, design and construction processes. When working on-site, healthcare construction managers are not there to represent themselves. Rather, these “construction guys” are there to represent every party - the facility, the owners, the construction team, the managers, and the future patients - to their highest use and their highest calling.

MYTH #4: Healthcare construction ends when facilities management begins.

In order to create a successful healthcare environment, healthcare construction and facilities management teams must continuously work together. Facility and construction managers connect frequently throughout the life of a project, aligning planning, design and construction with ongoing facilities maintenance.

When we combine construction services such as capital planning, project management and design with facilities management services, emergency preparedness, environment of care and regulatory compliance, facilities will see the immediate value for their patients and staff. The integration of the two services will provide invaluable benefits, such as increased service outcomes, streamlined communication systems and broadened team collaboration. Healthcare construction doesn’t end with facilities management, the two are a continuous never-ending cycle.

Turning four walls into a multi-functional healthcare facility is no easy feat. After all, creating an environment that will remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week isn’t just a goal, it’s a necessity. When setting the foundation for your next healthcare construction project, it’s important to separate fact from fiction.

Mike Wood is the Vice President, Construction at Medxcel,

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