Growing Number of Outpatient Facilities Face Maintenance & Repair Decisions

Health Care Shifts Away from the Hospital Setting

Outpatient clinics are becoming more widespread than ever before as health systems are shifting health care delivery to a more cost-effective approach.

Rather than directing large volumes of outpatient services through high-cost medical centers, care providers are finding that routine care and simple procedures can take place in multiple, smaller, lower cost ambulatory facilities. Such ambulatory facilities include freestanding emergency departments, imaging centers, primary care clinics, and urgent care clinics.

Outpatient Facilities Are A Different Animal to Manage

As the number of outpatient facilities continues to grow, there must be careful attention paid to how to handle repair and maintenance.

It is very common for large hospitals to employ their own maintenance and repair staff. Off-site and outpatient facilities need the same services as a main in-patient hospital facility, but it’s uncommon for a healthcare organization to permanently locate facilities staff at a remote location. Why? Consider the nature of the two types of facilities.

Main in-patient hospitals and medical centers are large buildings. More square footage means there is more to maintain and potentially repair. This means there is enough work to support a full-time dedicated staff. Furthermore, since the facilities are open at all hours, they could need an urgent repair at any time. A maintenance crew that the facility directly employs would be working and available at all hours.

Off-site medical buildings and outpatient facilities, on the other hand, are smaller structures. There are no overnight beds and their scope of services is much more limited. They tend to have more limited hours similar to most businesses and the facilities in any one network tend to be spread out across a great geographic distance.

In-patient hospitals and outpatient facilities are very different animals. That means maintenance and repair need to be handled differently.

Maintenance and Repair Options for Outpatient Facilities

In-house staff are repair and maintenance technicians employed directly by the facility. Payroll, labor relations, and HR for the maintenance staff are the facility’s responsibility, as are training and technology/equipment acquisition. Staff members can work at one facility or across multiple facilities, depending on the health system. A traveling in-house maintenance staff requires reliable transportation, a detailed work log for each location, appropriate scheduling and strategic allocation of time and resources. Consider the finances and logistics of this option carefully.

Third-party contractors may end up making the most sense for outpatient facilities, although it is important to know there are several different types of third-party contractor arrangements in the maintenance and repair space.

  • Outsourcing Individual Services – Individual providers perform each individual service. An electrician is hired for electrical needs, a plumbing company for plumbing needs, an HVAC technician for heating and cooling, and so on. The downside of this process is the arduous task of finding each specialist, and then having multiple contacts and many different bills to pay.

  • Multi-Maintenance and Repair Services – One company provides plumbing, electrical, carpentry, general repair, and more. In this arrangement, you have one point of contact and one vendor bill to pay. They become your trusted partner for your maintenance and repair services.

When selecting a third-party contractor, it’s important to select a service provider who is in tune with medical centers’ special needs and requirements to ensure the facilities can run as smoothly as possible.

Consider a company like Strada Real Estate Services who is experienced in serving healthcare facilities throughout the Chicagoland area, including walk-in clinics, off-site facilities, and professional service buildings. As a multi-maintenance and repair services company, Strada allows healthcare facilities to focus on what they do best – caring for patients – while they handle general maintenance, HVAC, lighting, plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and more as part of routine and preventative programs.

Clients look to Strada as their trusted partner, and enjoy having the same number to call for their various maintenance and repair needs (as well as having only one vendor bill to pay). With their self-performing technicians, Strada ensures their same high standard of excellence across multiple locations.

Looking Ahead

The number and the types of outpatient facilities will continue to grow as health care moves away from large hospital settings (HMF Magazine). Since outpatient facilities have different maintenance and repair needs from large hospitals, maintenance and repair services need to be carefully considered and perhaps handled differently than the traditional in-house staff setup in large hospitals. Consider third-party contractors as an alternative, but make sure they are reliable and experienced in working in the healthcare setting.


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