By: RK Mechanical Healthcare construction work is a specialty. The mechanical contractor, just like the general contractor and other trades, should be trained and experienced in the complex requirements of medical facility construction. The key to building a safe facility is rooted in the upfront understanding of hospital-specific requirements, obtaining/maintaining required or recommended contractor certifications and investing in healthcare-specific safety training for all project team members. MECHANICAL SYSTEMS ARE THE BACKBONE THAT CREATE STABLE HEALTHCARE ENVIRONMENTS Mechanical systems are involved in sterilization, infection control, imaging equipment and patient hygiene and comfort. A mechanical contractor with healthcare experience should take the time to understand the safety and security requirements of each facility before beginning work. The contractor should serve as a mechanical advisor and meet with the design team and project owners regularly and frequently--beginning on day one. MAINTAINING A FACILITY’S OPERATIONS DURING RENOVATIONS REQUIRES A NUANCED APPROACH Existing hospitals and healthcare facilities must remain operational to serve patients throughout a renovation, and this makes installing the mechanical systems challenging. A good contractor brings solid trade skills, but what makes a contractor truly stand out is having a team that understands and respects that special measures must be taken to protect the comfort and security of patients and staff during the renovation. It helps to have specialized medical experience in minimizing the noise and environmental impacts of construction. JOBSITE SAFETY IS THE SECRET TO BUILDING RELIABLE HEALTHCARE FACILITIES Randy Wainwright, Operations Manager, CHC, LEED AP at RK Mechanical explains the importance of jobsite safety on healthcare projects stating, “Compliance with Health Insurance Portability and Accessibility Act of 1996 (HIPAA) privacy rules, infection control procedures, interim life safety measures, special certifications and training such as ASSE 60 and NFPA 99 (specific to medical gas systems) are paramount in successfully completing healthcare construction projects.” As an example, RK Mechanical requires all employees to be fully trained and compliant with facility standards before qualifying to work on a healthcare project team. The evolution of delivery methods and technologies are the driving force in how healthcare is provided and how facilities are being built. As the science and understanding of infection control, procedures and imaging technologies advance they will push the planning, design and construction of facilities forward. At RK Mechanical, we understand it’s the project team’s responsibility to stay on top of required safety training and certifications; people’s lives depend on it.