Healthcare Professionals Assess Facility Life-Cycle, Maintenance

In a recent survey of healthcare management and maintenance professionals, Baltimore-based concrete specialist, Structural Group, addressed such topics

In a recent survey of healthcare management and maintenance professionals, Baltimore-based concrete specialist, Structural Group, addressed such topics as (1) major factors and areas of concern in the design and/or construction of new healthcare facilities, as well as maintenance and repair for existing facilities; (2) trends in design, construction and/or renovation of healthcare facilities; (3) preventative maintenance plans and budgets; (4) inspection budget and habits; and, (5) maintenance dollars as related to operating budget and overall revenue. Among respondents, professionals working for hospital facilities comprised 78 percent of individuals surveyed, and the majority reported more than one building or structure on the campus. A single building or 100 percent owner-occupied campus was noted by 68 percent. Seventy-one percent of respondents were involved in facility management and maintenance, while 37 percent participated in contractor selection, and 29 percent in choosing design consultants. Many reported oversight of aged buildings: 38 percent indicated that their facilities were 30-plus years old.

Regarding maintenance issues, 26 percent of respondents reported problems with concrete healthcare structures. Cracking was noted by 43 percent as the main defect requiring concrete/masonry repair, while 49 percent cited appearance or aesthetics as the main reason for intervention. Most respondents (60 percent) select a contractor specializing in the specific type of repair that is needed.

In the area of maintenance spending, 89 percent of respondents reported a viable preventive maintenance plan and budget for their facility, thus demonstrating widespread understanding of the importance of early problem detection. An increase in maintenance budget during the last few years was noted by 67 percent, with most increases falling in the range of one to five percent. Further, 45 percent indicated that the majority of maintenance spending goes to preventative measures and inspection programs, while 38 percent reported that the majority of funds go to annual maintenance. Regarding cost of maintenance as a portion of the overall operating budget, 36 percent cited 0-10 percent, while 23 percent claimed 11-20 percent.

On the issue of consulting design and construction professionals, 84 percent of respondents receive information on construction products and techniques from architects, 76 percent from engineers, 76 percent from contractors, and 78 percent from trade magazines.

Overall trends indicated by the survey are similar to those found in many other industries, i.e., 24 percent indicated that the most obvious trend in design, construction and/or renovation of healthcare facilities over the next five years is the focus on green buildings and energy efficiency. New technology requiring infrastructure upgrades as well as seismic reinforcement and retrofit were among other trends enumerated.

The results of this survey accentuate the importance of durability, lifetime cost, and aesthetics for healthcare building design, construction and repair, observes Structural Group Vice President Brian Gallagher. As many of the responding professionals noted, a preventative maintenance plan that includes annual inspections by a qualified contractor who specializes in repair is critical to the long-term interests of healthcare facilities.