The 2021 Virtual PDC Summit wrapped up today with a discussion on the role of design in infection prevention.

Speakers Linda Dickey, RN, MPH, CIC, CPHQ, APIC who runs a consulting firm and Melissa Piatkowski, M.S., EDAC, research associate at the Center for Health Design led today’s closing general session, which focused on how infection prevention and planning, design and construction professionals can build effective partnerships to reduce harm in the built environment.

One of the biggest takeaways from the session was the importance of using design to build in multiple layers of protection. In most cases, Piatkowski explained, there are multiple factors that lead to an adverse event in a health care facility. However, creating a system of defenses will help to reduce risk.

One tip Dickey gave to help facilities professionals think through design of a facility is to walk through plans with infection preventionists and other subject matter experts to reduce the likelihood of design changes and reworks, as well as the risk of adverse events.

The session reinforced the importance of collaboration, which was a theme that ran across multiple sessions during the three-day conference.

On Day 2 of the conference, Teresa Campbell, principal, HKS Healthcare; Bob Kramer, project executive, Skanska USA Building; Claudia Benjamin, communications manager, Skanska USA Building; and Dave Kistel, vice president of facilities and support services, Lee Health, led a concurrent session titled “Effective Collaboration Tactics for Complex Projects.”

The speakers described the communication and collaboration best practices that helped them streamline processes at the Lee Health Gulf Coast Medical Center project in Southwest Florida. One of the strategies was to provide a full-time construction administrator from HKS to answer questions and help the construction team while working toward a common goal. The hospital also made sure to mark milestone celebrations to foster a greater spirit of teamwork.

Day 2 also featured sessions on changes within the Facility Guidelines Institute’s 2022 Guidelines editions. One session went over changes impacting small and rural health hospitals, while the day’s first general session went over major revisions to the 2022 drafts.  

The second general session took a deep dive into pandemic recovery. The session was led by Jonathan Flannery, MHSA, FASHE, FACHE, senior director of advocacy, ASHE. Flannery interviewed a panel of experts who touched on various factors necessary for operational recovery and returning to a better normal. The panel discussed issues such as room conversion and space flexibility, and the importance of updating hazard vulnerability analysis and emergency response plans.

Tracking back to Day 1 of the conference, attendees heard from John Rossman, digital and innovation advisor, and former Amazon executive. Rossman, author of The Amazon Way, led the conference’s keynote session titled “Lessons Learned from Amazon | Nimbleness, Innovation and Leadership in Responding to COVID-19.”

Rossman challenged those listening in to always focus on the customer when the field goes through major shifts, such as grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important to be aware of competitors, he says, but “to obsess over the customers.”

He says that some of the ways the health care planning, design and construction field can accomplish that are:

  • Remember that the point of innovation is make the customer experience better.
  • Work to reduce friction for the customers. Learn their biggest complains and tackle them.
  • Be early to embrace external trends and find out how to make them viable at a larger scale.
  • Develop strong internal communication.
  • Have a bias for action and working toward the future.