While a Clinical Engineering department exists in nearly every hospital in the country, Mercy Health Muskegon has an extraordinary team that meets each challenge they encounter.
Led by Director Brian Barker, Clinical Engineering (CE) colleagues take in, process and prioritize work orders to ensure that every FDA-regulated piece of equipment is functioning properly within Mercy Health Muskegon. That amounts to approximately 40 work orders daily, Monday through Friday. Between October 1, and December 31, 2019, Clinical Engineering in Mercy Health Muskegon received 3,137 work orders. The team is responsible for every on campus and Mercy Health Physician Partners office along the Lakeshore with a geographical span of 80 miles from West Olive to Ludington.
“Our team of 12 technicians and two Operations Support Coordinators service 15,500 medical devices throughout the organization,” said Barker.
Nearly every major technological upgrade project, office move and major clinical purchase that affect Mercy Health clinical teams also directly impact the clinical engineering department. The consolidation of Mercy Health Muskegon and the transition to Epic are projects that directly impact the Clinical Engineering colleagues.
The major difference between Clinical Engineering and TIS is that TIS is responsible for the network hardware and connectivity, computers, printers and peripherals -which is also a monumental task for the health care industry – whereas CE is responsible for FDA-regulated medical devices.
“Clinical engineering is a high-stress job every day,” said Barker. “People’s lives depend on us doing it right.”
Rather than letting the stress get to them, Barker said, his department has found a way to lean into the stress, or push through the issues.
“Every day in clinical engineering, we have a lot of pressure to do it right, but when we allow ourselves to get overwhelmed by the pressure, that can become an unhealthy stress reaction, resulting in negatively affecting skills and abilities,” said Barker. “By focusing on patient safety and doing the job right, first time, every time, and knowing work load will continue at a steady pace, the Clinical Engineering team presses on.”
In addition to its daily work and pressures, the Clinical Engineering department suffered the passing of two colleagues within a couple of months’ time. According to Barker, losing their colleagues was very personal for everyone in the department.
Barker explains that his job is “to make sure we are all looking out for each other during this especially challenging time. I watch for burn out among my team, and I encourage professional training and PTO. We need to keep safety of our patients at the top of our priority.”
Despite their challenges and additional stress, the team of clinical engineers employs resilience to work behind the scenes with every clinical department to keep the hospitals and each Mercy Health Physician Partners office along the Lakeshore operating smoothly.