Dubai, UAE: Syed Mahmood Akhter, then an MEP Consultant and a Functional Manager at Zuhair Fayez Partnership Consultants, says that downtime in hospitals can not only affect the facility financially, but more importantly, can result in loss of human lives. He discussed the challenges facing the healthcare industry and says that ultimately, the problems can be traced back to improper MEP design and maintenance.
Akhtar said that as MEP accounts for 45% of the total cost of construction of a building, it “determines the patients’ comfort and satisfaction and determines the physician’s preference to use your facility”. Elaborating further, he said that if a physician was against using the facility, lesser number of patients would visit the hospital, affecting the overall revenue and rankings. “Hospital rankings, from cancer to urology centres, are determined by their structures, processes and outcomes,” he added.
One of the primary issues facing the industry, in Akhtar’s opinion, is the non-compliance of design codes, for instance, breakers and electrical panels being exposed to water is a critical cause for downtime in hospitals. Attributing lack of maintenance as another reason for downtime, Akhtar explained the relation between maintenance and design flaws. Corridor passages, he said, that are too narrow or too low to allow access and unavailability of catwalks make it hard for maintenance personnel to access critical valves or expansion joints. “I’ve seen switches hidden behind pipes and non-weather-proof cable trays, creating potentially hazardous conditions,” he said, citing an example.
Poorly designed mechanical rooms that result in roof-mounted chillers malfunctioning due to leakages or burnt compressors is another issue, he added.
Akhtar said that all issues pertaining to flawed MEP in buildings can be addressed, provided players changed their attitude.