Meet Michigan Medicine: Patient Equipment

September 28, 2017  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

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Keeping track of 10,000 pieces of durable medical equipment is a monumental — and vital — task at Michigan Medicine. It takes a 24/7 operation of dedicated staff members who make sure patients get the devices they need at the moment they need them.

“From the instant a patient comes through the door to the time they are discharged, the Patient Equipment team is there for them,” said Frank Krupansky, director of Materiel Services, which oversees Patient Equipment. “We’re responsible for everything from beds to infusion pumps, making it likely that every patient utilizes the services of Patient Equipment in some way or another during their stay.”

Here’s what you may not know about the Michigan Medicine team that equips patients and colleagues for success.

A well-trained staff

In order to join the Patient Equipment team — which currently consists of 42 staff members — employees go through a rigorous training program. That’s when they learn how to monitor, maintain and distribute more than 45 types of equipment to all areas of the academic medical center and ambulatory clinics.

“Everyone experiences at least three weeks of training,” said Hank Davis, manager of Patient Equipment. “Then they must pass a test that demonstrates they have the expertise about any device they will come into contact with.”

The types of equipment Davis’ team manages are diverse — from mobiles for pediatric patients to walkers, shower chairs, commodes and more.

If devices break or wear out, Patient Equipment will either replace it immediately or work hand-in-hand with the Department of Clinical Engineering to repair it.

“We’re the safekeepers of invaluable tools for patients across Michigan Medicine,” Davis said. “That’s something we’re immensely proud of and don’t take lightly.”

Improving patient outcomes

The Patient Equipment team aims to get any device to a patient within 30 minutes of the time a request is made. It does so by storing equipment as close as possible to the departments where they will most likely be needed.

“We keep a large number of infusion pumps in the emergency departments and PACUs, as those are feeder areas,” Krupansky said. “Our work flow is transitioning from one where clinicians submit an order and our team member delivers it to one where our team monitors equipment on each floor and replenishes it when it reaches a certain point.

“That ensures we get the necessary equipment staged closest to our caregivers and patients,” Krupansky continued.  “That makes a patient’s experience better, while improving their health outcomes — two things we strive for every day.”

The tag team

To keep track of all 10,000 devices, the department has been tagging its equipment with RFID (radio frequency identification) tags. When a device is “tagged,” it can be located wherever it may be in the hospital, ensuring that no equipment is abandoned, removed from the facility or accidentally discarded in the trash or soiled linen.

“We once had an expensive pump accidentally thrown in the trash after a patient was discharged,” Davis said. “Fortunately, an alarm sounded and we were able to track it down and rescue it from the trash heap. Those types of things show how important the tagging process is.”

While Davis said the work his team performs can be physically-demanding — from tagging thousands of devices to moving patient beds, which can weigh up to 750 pounds — it is also incredibly rewarding.

“When we do our jobs well, we allow our colleagues to do their jobs more effectively and help our patients to heal faster,” Davis said. “We know that we’re an integral piece of this impressive operation at Michigan Medicine.”

For more information on Patient Equipment, including how to request equipment for your patients, click here.

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