RJ Martin Electric Blog

4 Capabilities That Distinguish Top Health Care Electrical Contractors

Every construction project places tough demands on electrical contractors. Yet health care projects are a special breed, for the electrical systems that power health care facilities – from large hospitals to outpatient clinics, rehabilitation centers, physician offices and beyond – are highly complex and equally critical.

If you’re a general contractor (GC) or a construction manager for a health care organization, you undoubtedly know the stakes…you understand how crucial it is that a health care facility’s electrical systems (and yes, we’re talking about multiple systems within a broad system framework) 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.

When it comes to selecting an electrical contractor for a health care construction project, there are many criteria you can consider. Yet at RJ Martin Electric, we believe four capabilities in particular distinguish electrical contractors that can perform as you need them to in this demanding realm:

(1) Experience with health care projects. There is no substitute for experience—and that’s especially true when it comes to managing complex electrical contracting requirements for health care projects.

That experience manifests itself from the outset of any health care project through completion. Take power distribution, for example. 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. They should also have an understanding of 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).

 (2) Creative problem-solving abilities. This includes:

  • The ability to identify potential design issues and oversights, then mitigate the damage with minimal or no effect on scheduling or budgets. Imagine having to reroute conduit down a patient wing that’s already painted and completed due to early stage engineering errors. 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.
  • Experience in other market sectors (e.g., commercial, industrial, educational, retail) that exposes professional electricians to alternative approaches and techniques. For example, RJ Martin Electric 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.

(3) Organizational infrastructure and capacity. Every GC wants to keep project costs to a minimum, keep project timelines on course and maximize profits. Yet hiring the wrong electrical contracting firm can spell disaster in the form of budget overruns, delays, end-user dissatisfaction—even lawsuits or injuries. We highlighted the importance of an electrical contractor’s experience with health care projects and their ability to proactively and creatively address problems and challenges. A third key ability in an electrical contracting firm is the breadth and depth of its infrastructure and capacity.

What do we mean by that? Sufficient infrastructure and capacity encompasses several things:

  • The ability to mobilize, dedicate and commit qualified and experienced labor to work the project on schedule and on budget. That 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.
  • The knowledge and understanding necessary to look beyond the drawings and truly understand how systems work in and of themselves, and in tandem with other building systems.
  • 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 Electric 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 Electric safety supervisor coordinates training, conducts job site inspections, and internally enforces company, state, and federal regulations.
  • The administrative capacity to process paperwork, invoices and work orders as requested and provide timely back-office service in every way possible.

(4) An organization-wide commitment to quality. RJ Martin Electric is dedicated to quality on every project, regardless of size or contract value. Every employee is responsible for a quality installation. Quality comes from experience and the company’s deep commitment to formal training, which all employees are required to participate in on a frequent basis. As a result, RJ Martin Electric boasts electricians who have completed the state- and federally-certified apprenticeship program. Our electricians also participate in biannual NEC code updates and review to stay up to date on evolving code requirements.  In addition, our project managers have attended the Electrical Project Management Institute, an intensive management education program, at Purdue University.

One final point

RJ Martin Electric’s work in the health care realm encompasses research labs, rehabilitation centers, health centers and more. For every health care project we undertake, it’s no secret that real estate above ceilings, in and around walls, and throughout the project site itself is precious—there are multiple trades, from electrical and plumbing to HVAC, medical gases and more that are physically working in the space—sometimes simultaneously. This can create real issues in terms of keeping project schedules on track. In this regard, it’s vitally important to hire an electrical contracting firm that is sensitive to this challenge and knows how to work in harmony with other trades to coordinate schedules and tasks so that your best interests are kept at the forefront.

We’d argue that this really ties back to all the quality points mentioned earlier: experience; creative problem-solving abilities; the organizational infrastructure and capacity to deliver big-time electrical contracting services when they matter most; and an unwavering commitment to quality.

At the end of the day, health care facilities serve people—patients in beds, family members receiving outpatient procedures, friends accessing rehabilitation services and more. For GCs and end users alike, there’s too much at stake to leave the electrical contracting requirements of a health care facility to chance. Keep the four key capabilities mentioned earlier at the forefront of your decision-making process, and you’ll be assured of retaining quality electrical contracting talent that will serve you well.

Contact RJ Martin Electric to learn more.

We hope this blog gives you a strong sense of the key capabilities that distinguish outstanding electrical contracting firms in the health care arena. If you’re looking for an exceptional electrical contracting firm for your next health care project, or if you want information about RJ Martin Electric’s experience in health care, industrial, commercial, educational and retail markets, please call Robert J. Martin at 216-662-7100 or email rmartinjr@rjmartinelectric.com.

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