Planning is key when making the decision to use a Mobile Sterile Processing System to support a facility renovation project or to address increased capacity needs. One of the most important planning elements is how to transport instruments to and from the mobile unit to the hospital safely, and efficiently. The first choice for many facilities is to connect the mobile unit directly to the hospital via a corridor located as close to the typical instruments route from the operating and procedure rooms. This solution is ideal in many cases, but most facilities quickly realize it is surprisingly expensive taking significant time to construct assuming they have sufficient room to place the mobile unit in this ideal location. Space and time are often the elements that kill the mobile project. Is there a viable alternative?
In many cases, the Central Sterile Department is the single largest cost center in the hospital. When it requires renovation or is rendered unusable by some unplanned event, it can be hugely disruptive to the surgical workflow areas. No surgeries equate to decreased revenue. One cost-effective way of dealing with a partial or full shutdown of a department is to use a Mobile Sterile Processing System (MSPS™). An MSPS™ is a fully equipped mobile facility that your Sterile Processing Department can occupy and use to perform the most important work of reprocessing instruments for reuse. Instead of phasing construction, protracting the project timeline, and moving staff and equipment around the facility, the department can simply move into a temporary facility outside the building while the construction is occurring.
In the fall of 2019, a large university hospital in the northeastern part of the United States was planning a renovation for its Central Sterile Department. They had leased an MSPS™ from mmic™ Medical Systems (Image on right: MSPS™ in place before deployment of expandable side and installation of the Instrument Transport Dock.) The Unit was delivered, setup and the facility was receiving bids for its proposed corridor. The facility determined that the corridor was subject to local permitting and compliance with the Facilities Guidelines Institute (FGI) requirements for Healthcare Facilities. The structure needed to be sprinkled, meet other fire codes, and be climate controlled. It also needed to be atmospherically balanced relative to the hospital and the MSPS™ Decontamination and Sterile side vestibules. The corridor was designed to be approximately 80 feet long. These requirements made the corridor a substantial construction undertaking. When the bids were received the hospital was disappointed to learn that even the low bid was significantly higher than initially anticipated and budgeted. This made the project cost-prohibitive. The hospital had already committed to the project and needed a cost-effective alternative that could be executed in a reasonable amount of time.
A benefit of working with mmic™ Medical Systems is the decades of combined experience our engineering team has with integrating mobile units into scores of hospitals in both urban, and rural. After evaluating their goals and constraints, we suggested they build a sheltered loading and unloading area adjacent to the side of the unit that provides access to the Decontamination and Sterile vestibules, an Instrument Transport Dock (ITD). The ITD would serve as an area for the loading and unloading of enclosed case carts that contained dirty or clean instrument sets. The transportation of instruments in climatized trucks is not new but is traditionally used in conjunction with an offsite reprocessing facility. In this case, the instruments were only traveling a short distance from one side of the building to another.
This provided the customer with a safe and compliant solution to the costly construction of a corridor. An added benefit of using the ITD approach was the bonus storage area for consumables. The MSPS™ remained on site for 17 months and allowed the hospital to complete its renovation project on time and on budget. When asked to critique the experience and the value of working with mmic™ and the ITD solution, the Assistant Vice President of Facilities and Planning stated, “mmic™ was an excellent partner. This was a very difficult project, and mmic™ was consistently professional and collaborative to find solutions.” (Image on right: Interior of the Instrument Transport Dock looking into the climate-controlled transport truck.)