Healthcare Construction Affects More than the Hospital
Many of our healthcare projects are on active, occupied hospital sites, and I've recently been reminded of how visible we are to the "sidewalk superintendents" in each community. I heard from a friend whose father had been hospitalized at the location of one of my projects, and she told me that the highlight of each day for him was to watch the construction going on outside his window. He was fascinated by the technical activity but also watched long enough to pick up on some of the human dynamics among the workers. We hear the same thing from people throughout the community, how they make a point in their daily travels to look and see what is going on at the big construction site. They get excited by what they see; they know that a well-built new hospital building is a real asset to live near, and they are cheering us on to completion. Particularly in the case of people with chronic illnesses; they really appreciate the projects that we are doing and the “escape” it can bring.
Other important aspects to think about are the safety considerations while working so close to so many patients, staff, and visitors. I just put window film up at two of my sites in order to protect the eyes of patients looking out windows from welding arc flashes nearby. We all know that these sites need a lot of lighting and signs in order to help people find their way around us—at times when they are typically stressed. One of my superintendents prides himself on putting up nice-looking solid stockade fencing whenever our work is close to a roadway at hospital sites, so that drivers are not spooked by seeing equipment and materials swinging toward them on the other side of a chain link fence.
Of course, infection control and interim life safety measures are a constant consideration in this type of work. Our construction workers are very respectful of the needs of patients once we make them conscious of what is going on around them. I visited another site and saw a huge sign on the perimeter wall of a work area that read "PATIENTS ARE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS WALL.” I thought it was a great reminder of how protective we need to be in all of our actions on healthcare projects. It's not just OSHA and it's not just Joint Commission driving this. It’s our responsibility to each other in every community where we work.