RJ Martin Electric Blog

Six Common Electrical Challenges in Health Care Building Projects

No one in the electrical contracting field knows better about the specialized requirements of health care electrical contracting projects than RJ Martin Electric. As decades-long veterans of the health care construction sector, our firm has provided electrical services for numerous hospital, outpatient clinic, rehabilitation center and physician office projects. 

While every construction project places tough demands on electrical contractors, health care projects are a special breed. Why? Because the electrical systems that power health care facilities – and usually, there are multiple systems within a broad system framework) – are highly complex and equally critical.

If you’re a general contractor (GC) or a construction manager for a health care organization, you understand how crucial it is that a health care facility’s electrical systems are properly designed, expertly deployed within the scheduled timeframe and backed by an electrical contracting firm that possesses strong know-how, deep resources and a rock-solid reputation.

Through our work, we’ve identified several common challenges associated with electrical contracting projects in the health care realm, and below, we’ll highlight the capabilities needed by an electrical contractor to meet those challenges.

Common challenge #1: Leveraging multiple industry sector experience to maximize value. As we said before, health care projects are specialized and demanding, and they require each subcontractor – including the chosen electrical contracting firm – to utilize a broad skill set to meet the challenge.

Some electrical contractors may claim they’ve worked on health care projects, and some may have worked on select project types (i.e., physician offices, rehab centers). With RJ Martin Electric, you’re getting an electrical contracting firm that not only has deep experience in many health care project types, but also has decades of experience and success in other sectors like commercial, industrial, retail and education. This breadth of experience offers GCs and construction managers great value, as we’ll explain in common challenge #2.

Common challenge #2: Using creative problem-solving abilities in situations where creative solutions are needed. As an example, RJ Martin recently completed a rehabilitation center in the Greater Cleveland area for a prominent hospital system, and we used colored conduit that identified each of the different electrical systems within the building to maintain clear separation among sub-systems. It’s an approach we’ve used for other building types to simplify how otherwise complicated wiring is identified; our experience in those arenas enabled us to provide a creative solution to our rehabilitation center project. This, in turn, will make it easier to service the electrical system in the facility over time.

Common challenge #3: Working effectively with multiple power distribution systems. Typical commercial buildings usually feature one basic electrical distribution system. In a health care facility like a hospital or rehabilitation center, there generally are many systems – normal power, critical power, equipment power, emergency power, essential power, fire alarm and nurse call, to name a few – and each one must be distributed separately. Yet, these systems must somehow work in tandem. Additionally, health care-specific means and methods must be utilized which is atypical in “normal” commercial installations. Your electrical contractor needs to understand which systems should be separated; what each of their functions is; and why they should be separated. Your contractor should also understand the electrical code’s requirements, and have experience coordinating multiple systems like these in a variety of health care environments—not just one type (e.g., physician offices).

Common challenge #4: Identifying potential design issues and oversights, then mitigating the damage with minimal or no effect on scheduling or budgets. Imagine having to reroute conduit due to early stage engineering errors down a patient wing that’s already painted and completed. Sounds expensive, right? Through our decades in the business, we’ve seen numerous instances where construction drawings were incorrect. Your electrical contractor should have the experience, insight and courage to speak up, ask intelligent questions and get the answers needed to keep the electrical portion of the project on track and on budget. Catching mistakes early on can mitigate the associated cost and help ensure trouble-free electrical operations over time. In this regard, an electrical contractor can be a GC’s valuable partner.

Common challenge #5: Mobilizing, dedicating and committing qualified and experienced labor to work the project on schedule and on budget. This may seem like the price of admission for any contractor, but again, health care is unique. For proof, consider: The typical headboard in a hospital room contains up to 20 electrical receptacles, each of which has a distinct function. Those, in turn, are fed by different systems, so given all the electrical capacity that gets packed into this small space (let alone the room in which that headboard resides, and the entire facility), the electrical contracting firm you choose must have the requisite manpower to handle such complex requirements within the specified project schedule and budget.

Common challenge #6: Ensuring safety from project inception through completion. Worksite accidents, in health care projects or any other construction project, can cause injuries and even death. No matter the severity, these will always be the most important consequences. Beyond this, though, worksite accidents also can lead to budget overruns, delays, end-user dissatisfaction and even lawsuits. At RJ Martin Electric, we maintain an established and comprehensive safety program that ensures workers are properly trained in all elements of safe work practices. This helps to mitigate jobsite accidents and keep project schedules and budgets on track.

RJ Martin places the highest priority on providing employees with a safe and clean work environment. This commitment is underscored through our training and enforcement of company policy, state regulations and OSHA rules. A full-time RJ Martin safety supervisor coordinates training, conducts job site inspections and internally enforces company, state and federal regulations.

Contact RJ Martin Electric to learn more.

We hope this blog helps answer questions you may have about common electrical challenges in health care building projects, and the approach RJ Martin Electric takes in this area. If you seek an exceptional electrical contracting firm for your next industrial, health care, commercial, education and retail project, please call Robert J. Martin at 216-662-7100 or email rmartinjr@rjmartinelectric.com.

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