Most health care facilities managers (HFMs) can tell you about a time when they were left out of a decision-making process. Sometimes, isolated conversations without involving the right people can lead to decisions that affect the facility — for example, by introducing a safety hazard, creating an environment out of compliance or generating a process that could have been more effective if the user had provided feedback. During the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, large- and small-scale decisions needed to be made instantaneously, perhaps decreasing the likelihood that HFMs would be invited to participate in the decision-making conversations.
When a decision-making process does not involve a multidisciplinary group, the perspectives guiding the process are limited and the outcome typically falls short of the end users’ needs, desires and expectations. Decisions are often made during the planning, design and construction process of health care facilities without the HFM that result in hours of labor and significant resources to bring up to code or to correct for the end user (e.g., staff and patients).
As we aim to inform strategic conversations with our organization’s leadership personally, we should also remember to practice what we preach. Just as HFMs are sometimes excluded from conversations that would surely benefit from their involvement, consider other departments in your organization that can — and want to — offer their perspectives to your team for the benefit of the facility and patients.
For example, environmental services professionals should be considered your partners in facility maintenance and crucial stakeholders in facility-related decisions. These professionals have a specialized knowledge of safely preparing the environment for staff, patients and visitors, including the most effective building and furniture materials, cleaning and disinfecting agents and processes, and more. They should be consulted when changes in the environment are considered.
There are many other support services and departments that can offer their input as well. While you work to get a seat at the table with your leadership, don’t forget to make some extra space at your own table. The benefits are innumerable and will contribute to a more inclusive environment at your organization overall.