Ensuring Effective Healthcare Facilities Management Leaders

December 1, 2020

By George Pankiw

Ever wonder why medical gases always flow toward electrical outlets? Why generators function when supposed to? Or why equipment is repaired quickly if there is a breakdown and backup plans are put in place? 

A lot is due to effective leadership of a hospital’s facilities management department. The best way to ensure such leadership is to ensure the team is certified.

“It’s important our facilities management leadership understand the importance of working in healthcare and all the associated codes and standards that go with it,” says Chuck Donohue, director of facilities management at Hamilton Health Sciences. “Certification ensures the knowledge and experience is available to the organization on a daily basis.

“Facilities management encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure functionality, comfort, safety and efficiency of the built environment by integrating people, places, processes and technology. In a healthcare setting, the profession is concerned with the built environment for the well-being of patients, visitors and staff.

According to CSA standard Z8002-19, Operations and Maintenance of Health Care Facilities,organizations should make sure healthcare facilities are managed by competent, qualified individuals who have acquired knowledge, skill and judgment through experience and education. It further notes that knowledge, skill and judgment will enable the integration of planning principles, operations and business management with engineering and medical services to create and preserve a safe and effective healthcare environment.

The standard also states healthcare facility managers should obtain recognized industry certification in Canadian healthcare facilities management and continue professional development to remain current in the field and retain their certifications.

The Canadian Certified Healthcare Facility Manager (CCHFM) program is designed to test a well-defined body of knowledge representative of professional practice in healthcare facilities management. Developed by the Canadian Healthcare Engineering Society (CHES), it has evolved since its inception in 2015, when the first four CHES members obtained the designation. The goal now is to make the CCHFM program the standard for healthcare facilities leadership in Canada.

I was one of the original recipients of the CCHFM designation and have since encouraged my supervisory team at Hamilton General Hospital to become certified along with all facilities managers with Hamilton Health Sciences. It is an important step in establishing a level of competency across the health network, which is comprised of five hospitals and a cancer centre.

“Since we are a multi-site organization, we rely on our facilities management leadership to be independent critical thinkers who can resolve problems at their site quickly and efficiently,” says Kelly Campbell, vice-president of corporate services and capital planning at Hamilton Health Sciences. “Having certified facilities managers would only enhance these qualities.”

George Pankiw, P. Eng., is a member of the Canadian Certified Healthcare Facility Manager (CCHFM) advisory panel. He is the site manager, facilities management, at Hamilton General Hospital, part of Hamilton Health Sciences. In addition to having obtained the CCHFM designation, George is a Certified Healthcare Facility Manager (CHFM) and holds the senior status (SASHE) as an American Society for Health Care Engineering active member.