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George Mills, FASHE, CEM, CHFM, CHSP, director of engineering for the Joint Commission, speaks during a series of sessions held by the leading accreditation groups on Tuesday afternoon.

Under the theme of "Full throttle: Navigating change in health care," the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) Annual Conference & Technical Exhibition in Indianapolis drew a record-breaking 4,000 attendees and an all-time-high 370 exhibitors with a program that tackled important health facilities issues and recognized top-performing professionals.

Issues such as health care economics, technology, infection control and more were discussed in morning sessions on Day 1 and Day 2.

Afternoon forums included presentations by members of ASHE's Healthcare Executive Leadership Council regarding its work on capital renewal, data analytics and influencing the future; and presentations on codes and standards by leading health care accreditation groups such as the Joint Commission, DNV GL Healthcare, the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program and the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care.

Other sessions honored members for professional advancement and energy management.

The annual event also made news when ASHE Executive Director P.J. Andrus, MBA, CAE, announced that Health Facilities Management magazine and its digital newsletters will join ASHE and be integrated with ASHE's existing communications in January.

The convention concluded today with an emphasis on compliance issues and the popular Just Ask ASHE Codes and Standards Forum.

Moderated by ASHE's Deputy Executive Director Chad E. Beebe, AIA, CHFM, CFPS, CPO, FASHE, the Just Ask ASHE program featured top experts in various areas of codes, standards and regulations who discussed emerging codes and standards issues facing health care facilities and answered questions from attendees on their most difficult problems.

Not surprisingly, many of the questions concerned fire and life safety issues. For instance, Dave Dagenais, CHSP, CHFM, FASHE, director of plant operations and safety officer at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, N.H., discussed the regulatory ramifications of fire-rated doors being used in non-fire-rated spaces and how they can be avoided. Likewise, William Koffel, P.E., FSFPE, president of Koffel Associates Inc., Columbia, Md., answered questions related to fire-sprinkler systems and the issue of non-sprinkler-related infrastructure touching or being supported by the fire-sprinkler system.

Taking a broader look, Kristin Shifflett, LSC team lead in the Clinical Standards Group, Center for Clinical Standards & Quality at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), talked about the process she and her colleagues use to decide whether to update their requirements when a new set of standards is published by organizations like the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Other questions from the audience centered on CMS's emergency preparedness requirements, with Susan McLaughlin, FASHE, CHFM, CHSP, chief operating officer, MSL Healthcare Partners, providing background on progress being made by the Joint Commission in turning the CMS requirements into updated standards.

Also on the panel were the NFPA's Ron Cote, P.E., lead engineer for life safety, and Jonathan Hart, P.E., senior fire protection engineer.

Other sessions on the last day of the conference covered compliance-related topics such as egress and fire door inspections and maintenance, pressure monitoring, water management programs and emergency power basics as well as general engineering topics such as zone maintenance, energy consumption and capital funding.

ASHE's 55th Annual Conference will be July 15-18 in Seattle. Registration for the event will be posted next year at www.ashe.org/annual.

The organization is also planning the 2018 International Summit & Exhibition on Health Facility Planning, Design & Construction, which will be March 25-28 in Nashville, Tenn.