Huntsville Center provides tool for meeting DOD medical facility maintenance needs

U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, Operation and Maintenance Engineering Enhancement Program
Published July 14, 2014
An example of pumps found in a mechanical room in a hospital. The OMEE program maintains the facility and performs preventative maintenance and repairs to these type pumps as well as other mechanical systems.

An example of pumps found in a mechanical room in a hospital. The OMEE program maintains the facility and performs preventative maintenance and repairs to these type pumps as well as other mechanical systems.

Scenario: The chiller goes down in building B3425, a military medical facility. This causes great concern as the temperature in one part of the building must remain constant to properly house the blood supply for the Acute Operating Room. If the temperature rises above 70 degrees, it interferes with the refrigeration system and the existing blood supply will be lost, impeding the mission. At 4:12 p.m., the medical facility personnel send in a request to the Operation and Maintenance Engineering Enhancement (OMEE) team for this urgent maintenance request. The OMEE team springs into action to process the request and provides a Notice to Proceed to the site by 4:30 p.m. the same day. Necessary repairs were made and no blood was lost.

As evidenced by this real life situation, saving the day and avoiding catastrophe is a routine occurrence for the OMEE Program.  

Inadequate maintenance of medical facility systems and real property installed equipment can have dire consequences that jeopardize the welfare of patients often already weakened and more susceptible to infection or other medical complications. The OMEE Program, administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, provides a simplified process to respond to the growing operation and maintenance (O&M) needs of Department of Defense (DOD) medical facilities.  

The OMEE Program applies a systematic approach to the operation and maintenance of medical facilities to make sure these facilities serve their intended function efficiently and safely, and to ensure medical facility components reach or exceed their life expectancy. Other benefits derived from OMEE services are improved patient comfort and care, better working environment for the health care providers, easier compliance with codes and standards, reduced life safety violations, increased reliability of systems and equipment, and better long-range planning. 

OMEE has two suites of Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) service contracts that use low-cost, quick-response task orders to execute maintenance requirements for DOD installations worldwide. These contracts can provide scheduled maintenance, corrective maintenance, pest management, aseptic management, grounds maintenance, biomedical equipment maintenance and repair or replacement services in support of medical facilities. Medical facility systems maintained include all mechanical, electrical, architectural, utility, and site systems, equipment and components.  

Two of the major keys to success for the OMEE Program are: 1) The ability to address urgent and emergency maintenance issues in a timely manner, via the use of service orders. OMEE has a 24-hour hotline that is available to customers to handle these issues and have a commitment to turn around urgent requests within 24 hours. 2) Using contractors that were selected for their ability to perform in medical facilities and are knowledgeable in The Joint Commission (TJC) and Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) requirements along with other medical codes and standards. Relevant medical facility accreditation bodies, such as TJC, evaluate DOD healthcare facilities at least once every three years. Failure of any DOD medical facility to qualify under any or all of these standards may result in short- or long-term loss of DOD capacity to medically serve its patient population. 

DOD medical facilities that the OMEE Program serves include: hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, veterinary facilities, dental treatment facilities, medical training and research facilities, utility and energy plants supporting medical facilities, labs, and medical storage facilities. The OMEE Program provides for medical O&M services over a facility footprint of 24 million square feet at nearly 60 DOD installations, ensuring the sustainment of safe, reliable facilities to support the growing medical needs of our war fighters, their families and retirees.

OMEE services are performance based (instead of the detailed descriptive statement of work) which results in the government and contractor working as a team to provide enhanced efficiency, cost savings, clear work requirements, superior performance and improved customer satisfaction. Task order awards are not solely based on low bids, but are the result of various selection and award factors. Since these IDIQ contracts have numerous qualified contractors available to provide these services for a five-year period, the selected contractor has a vested interest to provide superior services that will ensure repeat task orders in the following years.

"Flexibility" underlies every aspect of the OMEE Program's innovative methodology in contracting to provide operation and maintenance services. Whether it is one-stop shopping, improved responsiveness, increased partnering, or the contract's yearly "option to renew," the enhanced customer service is an integral part of the OMEE process. This process can and has opened new options for government facility managers.

This article originally appeared in the July/August/September 2014 issue of the Public Works Digest.