The Future of Healthcare Construction
Healthcare facilities are unique construction environments. 99,000 people die in hospitals each year due to secondary infections contracted during their treatment, and one major cause of cross-contamination is the remodeling process.
Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) training ensures that you and your crew follow best practices to keep the safety of workers, medical staff, and patients priority throughout hospital renovations. Read on to learn more about ICRA from members that do the work.
Meet Mike Lee
Local Union, craft, years in the industry?
LU 1503, general carpenter, mostly finish work. I have been with the union for three years, I came from working four years as a shipwright.
What was it like to learn ICRA?
I initially did ICRA training about a year ago. I saw it was available and was looking to expand my skill set as a carpenter. When my work slowed, I took the time to take the training. The class was a good connection to work, a lot of people in the class were already working in health care construction. The hands-on portion of the course became an interview for future work I ended up getting.
How has your work been impacted by the pandemic?
I was working on an emergency room build at a coastal hospital when the pandemic hit. The hospital had to adapt to make changes for COVID-19. We partitioned triage spaces in the ER lobby, helping hospital staff with carpentry projects for the FEMA tent set up for COVID-19 testing. With ICRA in place, I felt safer at work when we were already conscious about airborne infections.
I was working out of town for this project, and when I arrived for the week, my hotel reservation was canceled due to the isolate-in-place mandates. Lodging became challenging. Our superintendent was worried about our safety and got on the phone with the Seaside mayor to find housing for essential workers.
What has been your favorite ICRA project to work on so far, and why?
I liked working at the Longview Kaiser medical office. There were nurses and staff just right outside of our containment work area. They got to see how professional we were keeping things. I got to build rapport with them and chat about their thoughts during the SEIU contract negotiation when there was talk of a strike.
How have these uncertain times shifted your outlook or approach to work and security?
There are a lot of uncertainties in society. I am counting on my skillset to carry me through. If I keep up my skill set, that expands my horizon to ride out the wave. There is something comforting about working in the building trades – fundamental life needs are taken care of.
In November, I attended an infectious control conference. It was very relevant to current events. It makes me realize that ICRA training is important for everybody. There is a lot of change right now. To have a foundational knowledge of what infection control is like in construction gives you a leg up.
Meet Rudy Kaplan
Local Union, years in the industry, years teaching?
Local 146. I started in the union in May of 1995 with JASCO (Johnson Acoustical). One of my first jobs was Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland, Oregon, which was ICRA related. I have been teaching since July 2016.
About 2005, I became a superintendent for Turner Construction with their Special Projects Healthcare Division. I did a lot of work with Providence, built the Providence tower, and also worked at OHSU quite extensively. As a superintendent, I was witness to non-compliant construction where hospitals didn’t know better. The UBC has put together a program that fills the safety gap for hospitals under construction.
How did the hybrid ICRA training come about PNCI?
We wanted to follow the governor’s COVID restrictions and still be able to provide ICRA training because the disruption from the COVID virus is a healthcare concern. We knew that hospitals would be tasked with building triage and testing centers and need to continue with construction in these times.
We developed the bulk of the ICRA class online. It is a 24-hour training, and 16 of those are online throughout the week. Students meet for an 8-hour hands-on session to learn how to build containment and practice practical applications.
How many classes have been held so far?
We have had four classes, with around 35 students in the hybrid training so far. The majority of them have ongoing healthcare work. About a third of the students took the class to become more hireable to contractors working in healthcare.
What is it like to teach online and in-class?
In class, I enjoy sharing my experience in healthcare. I share the good, the bad, the noncompliance that happens daily to watch for. It comes down to the boots in the field to make sure the job is as safe as possible.
In teaching, you adjust your style and content based on student feedback. It is challenging to catch nonverbal cues in an online environment, and our students are not very talkative. It is a learning experience for me, too.
What are you looking forward to moving ahead?
Having normalcy, even with a new normal. There is a sense of unknown. I am looking forward to getting up and understanding the world that I live in.