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Ensuring Service Personnel Access for Backup Power

The evolving health crisis is placing unprecedented importance on medical facilities in the US and around the world. As a result, the proper function of backup power systems is critical because patients are more numerous and more ill. Consequently, preventing and responding to backup power problems is also critical. To enable service and repairs and avoid outages, it is important to consider access protocols for power equipment technicians in epidemic response preparations.

Basic Questions to Facilities

Most facilities use qualified vendors to maintain and repair critical power equipment, and some use these firms to assist with compliance testing as well. When scheduling services, vendors will want to know (1) whether known COVID 19 cases are present in the facility, and (2) the COVID-19 protocols the facility has in place. The answers to these questions form the beginning of a discussion for evaluating technician access. By exchanging information in advance, both the facility and the vendor can minimize unforeseen problems to maximize effectiveness. Vendors will likely want to want to know about the following:
  • Parking and Access Arrangements: Some hospitals have erected temporary outdoor facilities that could hinder access. How will the technician get themselves and their equipment from the grounds of a facility into the equipment location?
  • Safe Passage: Social Distancing precautions require that technicians stay at least 6 feet away from other people. What routes through the building will minimize potential exposure risk?
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): What type is needed? Who will provide it? ... The facility or the vendor? What particulars govern its use at the facility, such as when and where to wear it and how to dispose of it afterwards?
Basic Questions to Vendors

Facility managers will also have basic questions. These will likely include:
  • Policies: What policies is the vendor applying to service calls?
  • PPE: What, if any, can the vendor supply for its technicians?
  • Qualifications: What qualifications does the vendor and its technicians have for working in the conditions at the facility. Service vendors can streamline queries by having ready answers for these questions.
Scope of Services

Critical power equipment requires regular maintenance, repairs when necessary, and periodic testing to verify readiness and demonstrate regulatory compliance. For regions with the greatest impacts, some vendors have assembled service teams for providing important maintenance while employing high levels of personal protection. For facilities with the greatest apparent exposures, some have requested services to correct active equipment issues only. By working together, facility managers and service vendors can evaluate the circumstances at each facility to determine the scope of work that should be performed.

The circumstances, scope of services, and work protocols could vary from site-to-site. Proactive discussion between facilities and service vendors before problems arise is the best way to ensure that medical facilities will have backup power when it's needed most.

ASCO appreciates the dedication of medical teams shown during the evolving health crisis. Service vendors are rising to the occasion to provide necessary services.

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