Jeanine Beisel: Going Behind the Scenes in a Modern Hospital

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a tour of the University of Maryland Medical Center. The tour was organized by AAMI member Inhel Rekik, senior clinical engineer at that facility, and Cliff Bernier, a director in the AAMI Standards Department.  I’ve worked on webinars about central sterile processing (CSP) and others healthcare technology issues, and this seemed like a great chance to see the actual space in which the challenges and successes play out.  Also, it had been years since I had been on a “field trip” and I was as excited as a 9-year-old heading to the museum. I was ready to relive that type of experience.

After making it through rush-hour traffic between Washington, DC, and Baltimore,  my colleagues and I arrived in the hospital’s bustling visitor center.  Our nine-member AAMI group was led through crowded hallways and into the basement where we were introduced to what Sean Connolly, the biomedical equipment technician (BMET) manager, proudly calls the “best BMET group in the country.”

Later, we went to CSP and donned our blue suits. Deborah Veronick, CRCST, manager of perioperative services, escorted us through rooms of instruments, with washers, and sterilizers lining the walls, and  technicians bustling about with metal carts.  Until then, what I knew of CSP departments was limited to the ST79 webinars and photos of individual devices. It was fascinating to see it all come together: devices arriving to be cleaned and sterilized so that the next patient would not be exposed to infection.  As a parent, I always think of the quality of care I would want for my own children should they have to undergo surgery.  Standing in these rooms, I couldn’t help but think how little most people know about the critical work being performed to make sure each patient is treated with safe devices.

This thought would repeat itself throughout the day.  We visited many other professionals who work behind the scenes to create a safe environment for the people on the front lines of patient care.  Whether it was hearing about the repair of hospitals beds or complicated devices, or learning about the level of detail involved in planning new trauma rooms, I was struck by the level of responsibility each person demonstrated and the accountability each felt for the safety of all patients and employees.

I’m grateful to the University of Maryland Medical Center team members for giving my colleagues and me a glimpse into their hidden world.  It was a learning experience that enhanced my understanding of the workings of a hospital and bolstered the respect I have for the people who make it function safely.

Jeanine Beisel is a project manager in AAMI’s Education Department.

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