Crothall Healthcare Blog

How Facilities Management Impacts Patient Care

Every day, at hospitals throughout the country, our FM team makes sure patients are comfortable and hospitals can perform surgeries and other critical functions. Patients want their room temperature to be comfortable, their lights to work and faucets not to leak. Operating rooms must be sterilized, and the FM team prevents contaminated air from entering those rooms that could lead to infections.

By Ric Letourneau, National Director of Operations – EVS/Quality/Compliance

Patients will remember how you make them feel – even if you’re there to fix their leaky bathroom faucet. A lot of people wouldn’t think that our Heatlhcare Facilities Management team has an impact on patient care. But that’s far from the truth.

Like many support services teams, much of our work is behind the scenes. To ensure that an entire hospital runs smoothly, fire safety regulations need to be met and maintained and emergency generators always need to work. Our technical expertise ensures that all systems operate at peak performance while saving money for our clients. For example, our FM Utility Dashboard tracks utility consumption for hundreds of hospitals to ensure each one effectively manages their energy use. Check out this video for more information!

But the maintenance mechanics on the FM team have a unique opportunity to develop a rapport with patients that can have a favorable impact on patient satisfaction. Along with Environmental Services, we are one of the few groups of people patients see that don’t want anything from them. We are only there to help.

We also have an in-depth knowledge of the facility that can be useful. Family members and visitors that have never been to the building often get turned around trying to find a room or the café, so our knowledge and pleasant attitude help develop a rapport with patients and can impact their experience.

To fulfill our promise of bringing peace of mind to our patients, we are investing in improving our associates’ communications and other “soft” skills. Our Facilities Management teams throughout the country have recently undergone training in the Positive Impressions program to improve these skills. While they are technical experts, we also want them to understand they work in an environment where patient care is a priority. Here’s a great example of how it works:

When one of our maintenance mechanics comes to a patient room, they treat them with the utmost respect – like any person would want to be treated. They begin by knocking the patient’s door, introducing themselves and asking for permission to come and help. They may say, “Excuse me, Mrs. Jones.  This is Greg Smith, and I hear your room temperature isn’t right.  Is now a good time to fix it?”

This question is simple but important to the patient.  All day, they are told when to take medicine, when they can sleep, when to get up and walk around.  Asking for permission to come into their room gives them some sense of control. It also gives our maintenance mechanic the opening to have a friendly conversation and connect with the patient’s feelings.

At the same time, the mechanic is aware of patient safety issues.  He or she washes or sanitizes their hands, often in front of the patient, and wipes off their tools before entering a room. They ensure their mobile work station doesn’t squeak or cause other noise issues that can disrupt a patient’s comfort. This is important because, on the HCAHPS survey, noise is the leading cause of patient dissatisfaction among support services – so we make sure those carts are squeak-free.

We know that patients are responding to our approach, and here’s a good story that illustrates that point. When an elderly hospital patient recently passed away, his obituary identified the maintenance mechanic as someone that had a positive impact on the patient’s hospital stay. The family understood the mechanic was one person that made their loved one feel special, and, as a result, he had a special place in the patient’s obituary.

As healthcare continues to change and give patients more choices, our goal is to help every patient have this kind of experience. By continuing to invest in our people, we will help our Facilities Management team to be at the forefront of patient-centered service.

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