11/12/12 — Wayne Memorial Hospital earns biomedical award

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Wayne Memorial Hospital earns biomedical award

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 12, 2012 1:46 PM

Working at a hospital can be stressful.

Making rounds every morning.

Being on call weekends, holidays and after hours.

"Stat. We're always stat," says Mark Renfroe, manager of the clinical engineering department at Wayne Memorial Hospital. "I tell my people, 'You get to a be a hero every day.'"

These heroes, though, are also virtually invisible ones.

They never hold a scalpel or do CPR to bring a patient back to life.

In fact, his staff of five spends most of its time behind the scenes making it safe and reliable for people to be at the hospital.

"We're taking care of all the medical equipment so that you have a safe stay at Wayne Memorial," Renfroe explained. "We might have a person whose grandmother or granddaddy is in ICU right now. They don't have the time or luxury of thinking about how it got there or how it's working."

A big part of the job, Renfroe says, "is making sure it works before the nurse gets hold of it."

"Anything that hooks to a patient, that's us -- ventilators, heart monitor, surgical equipment, video equipment during surgery, diagnostic in radiology, portable X-rays in your room, IV pump, that's a big one."

They are responsible for more than 4,000 pieces of equipment on site.

"I might have 400 of one kind," he said. "I have got 400 IV pumps, about 80 of those blood pressure machines, so we have a lot of different stuff. Some of the big boys we have got spares of so we can change those right out.

"Everything inventoried is classified. We know what month it's got to be checked. But more importantly, we have to know how to fix it."

It's a continuous process, Renfroe said. From daily rounds to the different departments around the hospital, doing minor repairs and preventive maintenance, to the more advanced and in-depth repairs in the shop, it's all about keeping things running. Especially in a business that deals with life-and-death matters on a daily basis and time can be of the essence.

"We don't want to be reactive," he said. "We want to be proactive before it happens."

As such, training, especially in the face of rapidly changing technology, is an ongoing requirement.

"We go to trainings routinely," Renfroe said. "I spend a lot of money in training. A nice chunk of our budget is for training, but I have got to have some specific training to know how to take it apart, calibrate it and fix it for the next person."

The engineering staff collectively boasts 82 years of biomedical experience, 79 of those at Wayne Memorial. Five of the six have attained national certification, which has to be renewed every three years.

His department -- which includes Benjamin Chestnut, Mark Dutton, Stephen Howell, Mike Howell and Jessie Jones -- was recently recognized for exemplary service by the state.

The N.C. Biomedical Association presented them with its first inaugural award, the Kevin Scoggin Shop Recognition Honor.

"This is the first year that they have done the 'shop of the year' or department of the year, to recognize someone that's outstanding at what they do," Renfroe said. "We were in the finals with Wake Med, Rex and Wilson Medical Center."

The distinction was based upon education and training of the staff, their skills, certifications, customer satisfaction at the hospital and the department's reputation in-house, as well as compliance rates.

"They have always achieved a 95 percent or greater completion rate and have never dropped below 100 percent on life support devices within the month scheduled," according to a press release from the N.C. Biomedical Association. "This outstanding completion rate speaks volumes to their forethought and diligence in completing their work and keeping the equipment at Wayne Memorial Hospital safe and reliable."

Renfroe said he was honored to have his staff recognized for what they do on a daily basis.

It reinforces the message he shares often with his co-workers, he says.

"I tell them, you may not be the one who invented (it) or cured a disease but you can go down saying that you provided quality care at Wayne Memorial Hospital and you helped people stay ahead with the work that you did. So you do a service to the community," he said.