By K. Richard Douglas
The northwestern quadrant of our nation’s capital includes the Smithsonian’s Nation Zoo, federal buildings, tourist attractions, the National Cathedral and the White House. Besides all of the interesting sights for tourists, there are historic areas where people live. Well-known neighborhoods and areas like Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle can be found there as well. The historic area, known as Georgetown, is also in northwestern Washington, D.C. On Reservoir Road in Georgetown is MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, a not-for-profit, acute-care teaching and research hospital.
MedStar Georgetown is a 609-bed health care provider that was founded on the principle of treating the whole person and has achieved Magnet status for excellence in nursing.
“MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is part of MedStar Health, which is the largest provider in Maryland and Washington, D.C. MedStar Health is composed of 10 hospitals, a research institute and over a 100 clinics,” says Inhel Rekik, M.S., clinical engineering manager at MedStar Georgetown.
Handling the servicing of imaging equipment at the hospital and at some off-sites is the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital imaging team, made up of three imaging specialists who are a part of the 12-member clinical engineering department.
The imaging team is responsible for three MR scanners, four CT scanners, four angiographic rooms, three cath lab rooms, four gamma cameras, one PET-CT scanner, more than 30 ultrasound units, nine rad and R/F rooms and five portables.
They also service five offsite locations, which include four rad and R/F rooms, ultrasounds, CT scanners and bone densitometers.
The only equipment the group does not service includes radiation therapy, cyberknives and linear accelerators.
“Due to customers’ preferences, the imaging group does not service these modalities,” Rekik says.
The imaging group has also been instrumental in cutting the costs of capital purchases. Rekik says that the team is also involved in new construction projects.
“Our imaging specialists are very involved in the selection and purchase of medical equipment,” she says. “They bring insight about the service history of the units as well as quality of support provided by the vendor.”
“In the past, each entity negotiated their own imaging contract and now all contracts are consolidated and negotiated as a system entity. Imaging spending represents 40 percent of total biomed system spend across the system,” she says.
“The majority of the imaging spend was coming from three vendors. The MedStar team negotiated with these three vendors, not only for a system-wide discount, but also in terms of standardized terms and pricing structures across the system. The results yielded savings of $1.4 million across the system,” Rekik adds.
In addition to helping with planned purchases, the imaging team is instrumental when additional clinical space is added.
They are also heavily involved in the planning and construction of new areas. They make recommendations for space layout and equipment positioning that will improve the clinical workflow and minimize equipment breakage. The engineers stay current with their training.
“We make sure we include OEM training in the proposal when purchasing new imaging equipment. We also stay current by reading ICE magazine and any other available literature,” Rekik says.
Investigators When Called On
The imaging team has proven that by using a logical approach, they can determine the reason for a malfunctioning device, as well as aid in the planning process for new technology.
“We recently built a state-of-the-art proton therapy center that is one of only 13 centers in the United States that offers highly advanced targeted proton therapy to cancer patients. We are also renovating our nuclear medicine area that has 1 SPECT/CT and two dual-head SPECT cameras,” Rekik says.
“Our imaging engineers assisted in the selection of equipment and provided recommendations to the project team about the space, layout-based workflow issues and repair data. They also provided the project with installation requirements (utilities such as power, air cooling/handling, etcetera) as well as IT requirements such as integration requirements and interfaces needed,” she adds.
The team’s knowledge and insights will be especially needed with the system’s newest addition.
“The most exciting project for MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is a $500 million surgical pavilion which will be one of the largest new health care developments in Washington, D.C. This pavilion will have 156 private rooms, new emergency department, 32 new operating rooms, CT and MRI as well as additional parking space. We are equipping this surgical pavilion with state-of-the-art technology. We are looking forward to offering an unprecedented patient experience for all who receive care here,” Rekik explains.
The team is adept at problem solving and wears their detective hats when called on. One example was a puzzling and recurring failure of X-ray tubes.
“During the first year of operation of one of our CTs, we were replacing X-ray tubes every two to three months. After the third replacement, our imaging team decided to further investigate the issue. We monitored the incoming power to the system, collaborated with the manufacturer and concluded that the root cause of the issue was a defective tube assembly process. In fact, the port of the CT’s X-ray tube shifted when heated up, causing an air leak and arching of the tube. In response to this finding, the manufacturer corrected the assembly process of the X-ray tube and the issue was corrected,” Rekik says.
Patients and clinicians who rely on diagnostic imaging in our nation’s capital can rest assured that the imaging professionals will get the job done right at MedStar Georgetown.