The biomed technicians of SpecialtyCare are maintaining their usual high standards, despite the challenges involved in the COVID-19 outbreak. Trained in equipment purchasing, installation, and maintenance, as well as disaster preparedness, both the perfusion techs and the intraoperative neuromonitoring (IONM) techs headquartered at the Airpark Technical Center in Nashville have continued to deliver superior client service.
We sat down with Andrew Goldstein, SpecialtyCare’s Manager of Biomedical Engineering, to find out what adjustments have been made at Airpark during the pandemic.
What does business look like at this time? What has changed in light of the coronavirus?
For the most part, because a lot of our work is built around keeping equipment functional, most of our work is continuing. We have to keep up with schedules, so my team is still out there in the field, traveling to their accounts nationwide to perform preventive maintenance.
Of course, we’re dealing with new challenges, like making extra time to get into the facilities we work with, as hospitals screen people on the way in and so forth. We’re having to make special arrangements with hospitals as they restructure their vendor access, as well as deal with the difficulties of travel now. Some of our trips have been modified in time or duration, and on a couple of occasions, we’ve had to postpone plans because the flights are just not available, like the Hawaiian islands. In those cases, we’re working with the biomed departments of those hospitals to make adjustments.
What is being done to keep your team healthy?
We’re very focused on keeping our team healthy. For instance, normally one of our biomed techs would travel to a hospital to run the annual inspection of the equipment. So, say for our Boston team, one of our biomed techs would fly to Boston, then each clinician in Boston would bring the equipment to a single location, where it could be inspected, and then the clinician would leave with that equipment.
What happens now, we have equipment here in Nashville that we use as loaners, so we send it out to the field, to our clinicians, then that clinician sends their equipment to Nashville, where it’s inspected.
We actually had this method perfected for our very small teams, where it wasn’t economically efficient to send somebody out. So these are reasonable accommodations, and they keep our team safe.
What is the atmosphere at your Nashville location, Airpark? Are biomed techs considered essential at this time?
Airpark is fully functional. We have our normal biomed team there for perfusion maintenance, and we have our supply chain to ship out supplies. Everything is running as normal, but we’re taking additional precautions in terms of checking equipment in. And fewer vendors are coming in, and when they are there are accommodations. Everyone is taking appropriate social distancing measures.
Your perfusion techs are responsible for the upkeep of the cardiopulmonary bypass machines, or heart-lung machines. Have these machines been in more demand with CV, or not so much?
We don’t get a lot of feedback directly on hospital caseloads. Most of our inspection schedules are based on time rather than the usage of our equipment. I will say our support calls are down somewhat because elective surgeries are down.
We did see increased inspection and maintenance requests for equipment used for ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation), but we knew there was going to be more demand on this equipment, so a few weeks ago before things were beginning to ramp up, we had a couple of our perfusion biomed techs come to our Nashville location and prepare all the spare equipment we had and set it aside for quick deployment for hospitals to use.
I take pride in the fact that our team is out there, doing what they need to do in light of the situation, making sure everything is functional for our associates. And we’re receiving great cooperation from our clinicians. The teamwork involved with this and the commitment to doing what is necessary has been great for everybody at SpecialtyCare.
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