There is a lot of misinformation swirling around about how hospitals can benefit from Facility Condition Assessments (FCAs.) Do you know what is true and what is not? Here are some of the most common misconceptions.
MYTH #1 – An FCA only evaluates Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, and Fire Protection systems
Many hospital administrators assume that Facility Condition Assessments only encompass Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) systems. This tends to happen because their Facilities Department administers the FCA and that department maintains the MEP systems. However, areas that would typically be under the purview of the Construction Department are also important to include in an FCA.
Significant facility condition issues such as building envelope integrity, roof condition, or ADA compliance have substantial capital improvement impacts and inform MEP system decisions.
A comprehensive FCA should include a multi-disciplinary team with the following subject matter experts:
An architect on the team can determine whether the building is structurally sound and compliant with current regulations. On one western US FCA engagement, our MEP engineers initially brainstormed ways to retrofit the MEP systems for an older building. But our architect on the team realized that the building was so significantly non-compliant with seismic codes that it must be torn down. Had we not included an architect’s input, the hospital would have wasted money by implementing the MEP recommendations.
Architects and MEP engineers working together on an FCA can shorten project durations and save money. Combining their implementation efforts into a single project reduces the downtime to the affected unit, and the contractor only has to set up once instead of twice.
If MEP and architectural implementations were separate, the hospital would inconvenience patients twice, and pay for dumpsters, porta potties, and infection control twice.
(Read more about how to optimize renovation projects and execute creative phasing strategies in occupied space.)
MYTH #2 – The FCA is a stagnant tool that shows a single snapshot in time
Many hospital administrators struggle to find value in FCA reports that sit on a shelf and become outdated. Facilities change continually.
Even though an FCA team completes the assessment at one point in time, a cloud-based FCA reporting tool can yield an ongoing view of the future. BuildingSymphony is a living tool that helps staff monitor equipment inventory and justify capital requests.
If the hospital replaces an old chiller with a new chiller, by updating BuildingSymphony, facilities staff can see an updated deferred equipment cost. They can see which equipment across the entire campus, in order of priority, that needs replacement in the upcoming months.
BuildingSymphony provides updated capital renewal forecasts to help facility managers justify costs to their boards.
MYTH #3 – Outsiders don’t know my facility better than I do
It’s true that hospital staff and users know more about each and every hospital “symptom.” Humidity, drafts, a light flickering on and off, a broken toilet, or the sink that won’t drain. Yet, an FCA team has the ability to collect symptomatic data from a panorama of staff and piece it together to diagnose root causes at a system level.
An FCA team that spends several days touring the facility, interviewing staff, and reviewing existing documents can gain a very clear picture of the facility.
This level of due diligence combined with an outsider’s perspective helps them untangle latent and mis-diagnosed issues that would otherwise go uncaught.