Published on October 07, 2020

Concord Hospital Facility Operations Called on as Never Before in Response to COVID-19

Employees in Concord Hospital Facility Operations are used to being called on, on short notice, to care for Hospital systems like electricity, heat, air conditioning and plumbing so healthcare providers can care for patients.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, they were called on as never before, building dozens of negative pressure/isolation rooms, building a COVID-19 testing area near the Emergency Department, erecting large tents for outside screening, testing and triage and ensuring that Hospital systems were not overwhelmed by a potential surge of critically ill patients. They also volunteered for extra hours and worked on necessary routine tasks and projects already underway when the pandemic struck — such as the new Memorial Medical Office Building West, which opened in June.

“It definitely was intense in that we had to complete a lot of work in a short period of time, but also we had to balance our normal
operations which didn’t just stop,” said Alison Brisson, Concord Hospital Director of Facility Operations. “We still need to maintain our mechanical systems and infrastructure in addition to responding to the emerging needs for specialized spaces.”

Facility Operations ensures that the healthcare environment is appropriate for the care and safety of patients, staff and visitors. Preparing for an infectious viral respiratory illness like COVID-19 required many rapid changes.

The Hospital’s carpentry shop made inserts to replace windows in 38 temporary negative pressure/isolation rooms so filtered air could vent outside and not escape into the Intensive Care Unit and other Hospital patient care units. Anterooms were built next to the isolation rooms to provide a safe place for providers to put on and take off protective equipment such as gloves, gowns, masks and face shields.

Mindful of how important natural light is to help healing, Facility Operations carpenters included Plexiglas windows in the new window inserts. They also added windows to the anterooms, so nurses and doctors could observe patients without having to enter the isolation rooms.

“The work was pretty rapid,” Brisson said. “It could include building nine isolation rooms in a few days — and anterooms.”

Often, the extra work was completed with fewer workers, as some worked from home for a portion of their hours to help reduce the number of people in the Hospital and preserve Personal Protective Equipment.

“The Facilities staff response was incredible and very much the reason for our success,” said Brisson. “The pandemic impacted our physical environment in ways that we never really imagined, so being able to temporarily renovate or expand space in a short period of time was impressive work to witness.”

Brisson said she looks forward to building upon new relationships made at the Hospital during the COVID-19 response to help maintain COVID readiness and prepare for converting to a ‘new normal’ afterward.

“I feel fortunate to be able to be part of the solution and to be able to have a direct influence on space for our community to receive the absolute best care,” she said.

“That’s pretty powerful.”