Healthcare providers have to consistently keep up with new rules, regulations and advisories in their practices.
It’s not just providers, however – healthcare facilities and the people who manage them must keep up with rapid changes in code compliance, neighborhood health, sustainability and energy management. This is particularly crucial during new construction. If a new hospital or ambulatory care center doesn’t meet compliance on a foundational level, the steps to correct the issue could be detrimental, not just to the budget and the timeline, but the workers and the facility’s future patients.
Compliance concerns aren’t a one-and-done issue. Planning, design and construction teams need to work together with compliance teams before and during a new project.
Pre-construction assessment is key to any project. During the pre-construction assessment, all teams should examine the potential environmental health, safety and security issues of the project and determine corresponding mitigation processes in case any issues arise.
One important component of pre-construction risk assessments is ICRA – the infection control risk assessment. A fully integrated pre-construction assessment process means planning, design and construction teams aren’t looking at the project from just an infection control perspective, but also a physical safety perspective. All the potential risks are examined at the beginning of a project to protect lives during and long after construction.
Assess the Assessments
Staying on budget and on schedule is every project’s goal, but the guiding light for healthcare facility construction projects should always be safety and compliance. Building, design and safety teams should all assess their work continuously throughout the project to ensure they are continuously compliant.
It will sound redundant, but it’s not out of the question for internal teams to assess the planning, design, construction and safety teams’ assessments. This is no different than internal assessments on facilities’ operations and regulatory teams. The last roadblock your new facility needs is to encounter someone that may not have your facilities’ best interests in mind. For example, say a third party comes in and shares that there is a major compliance issue in a newly constructed operating room and is charging hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix it. An internal assessment could reveal that the error was simply a process error that was an easy – and inexpensive – internal problem to correct.
Keep it moving
A compliance issue during construction won’t always be detrimental, but if it results in work stoppage, the project could be severely impacted. An internal team should be performing continuous assessments to resolve issues while the project continues. However, if a compliance agency discovers an issue during their external assessment, work stoppage is almost guaranteed. The stoppage could be as little as 24 hours… or as long as it takes to correct the issue. If your internal team discovers it, costs to rectify it could be minimal. However, if an external agency discovers an issue and halts construction, it could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix, not to mention innumerable headaches!
Patient and workforce safety are imperative at healthcare facilities, but the safety of construction workers and managers when that facility is being built is equally important. While it may seem overly cautious to continuously assess every team throughout the construction process, the benefits of smoothly correcting compliance issues during construction – rather than risking an over-schedule and over-budget process – will ensure your facility sets out on the right foot.