Medxcel ensures its managed facilities are always in compliance and prepared for an official survey. The Joint Commission (TJC) performs tri-annual inspections based on the organization’s Standards and Elements of Performance to ensure all safety and environment of care processes and equipment are functioning as intended in every facility. Medxcel conducts validation surveys and support visits to facilities throughout the year to prepare.
During one of these preparation surveys in 2014, the compliance team at an Evansville, Indiana, facility discovered a problem: The facility did not have a code-compliant electrical system. The team engaged with an electrical engineer to estimate redesigning the system. The cost? $40 million. And it wouldn’t be a quick project.
The number-one goal was to phase the project so the three electrical branches requiring updates were addressed: Life safety, critical and equipment.
“This project was immense, essentially rewiring a live, fully functioning hospital,” explained Director of Facilities Eric Fulkerson. “The project touched every floor, from the basement to the top of the seventh story. $17 million worth of new equipment was installed, including connecting to all the major equipment in all of the patient wings. There is not often spare real estate inside of a hospital, so maneuvering the logistics of moving equipment in, out and around was a complicated process.”
Then COVID-19 struck.
“We had to find a way to get our work done,” said Jeremy Fortier, Regional Manager, Planning Design and Construction. “We went back to the drawing board to understand how we could work within the hospital because nobody knew what was going to happen for a while. Hospitals couldn’t have visitors, but what did that mean for contractors?”
It turned out, as long as contractors were wearing PPE, there were no restrictions within the building. This even grew to a silver lining as elective surgeries and procedures were limited. The team was able to do more work more quickly inside the hospital with reduced clinical staff.
Surprisingly, COVID was not the most nerve-wracking part of the emergency power project. It was the full-system shutdown.
“This is almost unheard of, to turn off a hospital,” said Fulkerson. “We made sure to run a test on everything before we wired it into the hospital so we only had to complete one full-on blackout test. With our backup generators running so as not to risk any disruptions to patient care, we completed the blackout test around 4:00 a.m. Other than a single piece of commercial laundry equipment not coming back online, it was a major success.”
“This is really a credit to Jeremy and his team,” said Fulkerson. “As Jeremy said, we had to find a way to get it done no matter the challenges. We went back to the drawing board and doubled the execution we could accomplish by planning in two-week increments. We worked with clinical leaders to help coordinate locations. The nursing leaders didn’t compromise patient care an ounce and still helped squeeze in and accommodate our work.” Thanks to the regional and local construction team working in tandem with Eric’s facility and safety teams at Medxcel, this project was completed 18 months ahead of schedule and $4.8 million under budget.
“Teamwork embodied this project,” said Fortier. “Neither Construction, Facilities, nor Safety could have done this alone, and none of us would have been successful without the incredible cooperation from the clinical staff. It was a successful team effort.”