Hospitals often rely on vendors for support and expertise to conduct code-specified inspections and testing of various systems. However, health facility managers may be unaware that some inspections and testing specified by code do not have to be conducted by a specially licensed or certified professional.
Many of these procedures can be conducted in-house, such as fire doors and monthly fire extinguisher checks. However, many do not know that this category also includes firefighter elevator recall, fire/smoke damper testing, medical gas alarm panel testing and more.
A new tool developed by the American Society for Health Care Engineering’s (ASHE’s) advocacy task force can help facility managers determine which requirements can be completed in-house and the possible cost benefits of each.
First, facility managers should review current inspection and testing contracts to determine the outsourced costs associated with those services. They should develop a comparison cost analysis by reviewing current costs to outsource versus if those services were performed in-house.
For example, assume outsourcing fire damper testing costs $50 per damper and testing a fire damper takes less than 15 minutes. Lastly, assume the in-house technician earns $40 per hour. Calculating it out derives that fire dampers can be tested in-house for $10 each. This is approximately a $40 savings per damper. Think about how many dampers are in a health care facility. This is just one example of how a facility will not only achieve savings, but also build a legacy of knowledge with in-house technicians.
Even if the facility manager decides to continue outsourcing particular services, the tool still proves useful by providing the procedures that should be included in any scope document or service contract with the vendor. This will ensure that the vendor is held responsible for providing the information required by the code. Additionally, it will make it easier for facility staff to verify if the information in the vendor’s service reports matches the requirements in the scope document. Facility managers are responsible for ensuring vendors accurately provide and complete all necessary documentation
For those ready to embark on insourcing or interested in evaluating the process more, the tool provides a list of services facility management teams can perform in-house along with code sections and example procedures on how to perform them. In addition, code and standard references are included so that facilities staff can further review the requirements.
The procedures will have to be tailored to the specific facility but may only require minor modifications. Facility managers should always confirm with their state and local authority having jurisdiction when they may require a specially licensed or certified professional.