Health facilities require a high-functioning hospital HVAC system to keep patients comfortable, the environment sterile and conditions operable. Preventative maintenance plays a crucial part in that HVAC properly operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.#Maintenance matters: Find out how a proper preventative plan set by @RasMech can save you from a #HVAC nightmare. Click To Tweet
Although a hospital and a commercial building may be similar in size, the overall needs of hospital HVAC systems are quite different. The airflow pressure, filtration, and ventilation requirements are highly regulated to meet the proper sterility requirements in this sensitive setting. These properties are even unique within the confines of the building. For example, to keep an operating room sterile and infection-free, the room will typically be kept at a lower temperature with a higher level of air circulation than say a patient room or a lobby.
So, what happens when something goes awry? A 2016 system malfunction at Lancaster General Hospital exemplified for all other hospitals the catastrophic results that hospital owners and managers should try to avoid at all costs.
When this system malfunctioned, an employee noted that the hospital heated and fogged up instantly. This not only caused discomfort among the staff and patients but also made conditions inoperable. The hospital was forced to shut down for a total of three and a half hours. During this time, the operations already in progress were finished or moved to a different location, emergency patients were redirected to a sister hospital and scheduled surgeries were postponed for later dates.
[To keep your hospital HVAC functioning properly, download our HVAC Preventative Maintenance Checklist.]
Major costs (likely millions of dollars) were also associated with this HVAC issue. Valves, sutures and more must be kept in a controlled environment. In this case, the sterility of supplies was compromised as temperatures and humidity leveled raised during this mishap. All of these items went to waste and had to be properly discarded.
While no operating room equipment was impacted during this malfunction, not all hospitals who suffer an HVAC upset are so lucky. As with the supplies, much of this equipment is heat and humidity sensitive. The costs of a malfunction escalate extremely quickly when even one piece is compromised. Not to mention, being down necessary procedural equipment means fewer patients are able to be treated.
Although not all catastrophes can be avoided, there are certain steps you can take to reduce your chances of facing one. Your first step, if not already done, should be to put a preventative maintenance plan in place. At a very minimum, your plan should include cooling system checks to be performed in the spring and heating system checks to be performed in the fall.What happens when there is an HVAC malfunction? In progress operations must be finished, emergency patients are redirected and scheduled surgeries get postponed. See how @RasMech can prevent these: Click To Tweet
This maintenance plan should include checks (such as coil inspections, tightening bolts and cleaning safety controls) by our certified HVAC technicians to keep the HVAC working properly at all times. If the hospital has a maintenance staff on-site, they will also be able to perform preventative tasks, and our techs can assist with any final touches needed and complete the needed certifications.
By running through your preventative plan at least twice a year, your HVAC system will run properly and more efficiently. The benefits of staff and patient comfort, a controlled sterile environment and the long-term cost savings are well worth the seasonal checks.
Consistently monitoring your system and preventative maintenance are the keys to a properly operating HVAC system. To avoid the next hospital HVAC disaster, consult with us today to set up your preventative maintenance plan.