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Fire Damage in the Health Care Industry

Hospital Fire Damage and Prevention

Smoke resulting from a fire can have an extreme effect on your health, regardless of whether the exposure was one large incident or ongoing small incidents over a long period of time. The Environmental Protection Agency (or EPA) strongly recommends that anyone, including the healthy population, avoid smoking if they can help it. Just like smoking cigarettes is terrible for you, so are any other types of smoke inhalation. When smoke is heavy, and people are close to a fire, the smoke can be particularly dangerous. Smoke is a mixture of gases and other miscellaneous particles that are often small and microscopic. Despite their small size, they are usually the most significant health threat due to their ability to penetrate deep into someone’s lungs. This penetration can cause a wide range of health problems ranging from minor issues of burning eyes and runny noses to major long-term threatening health issues aggravated chronic heart or lung diseases.

Hospital Fire Prevention

In some cases, there is a direct link between particle pollution exposure to premature death. These occurrences can happen to the typical healthy person, including the young and healthy adult. What about those who are at risk? Whether you are older, have lung disease, asthma, or simply have other health issues causing a compromised immune system, exposure to these elements can be extremely harmful and irreversible. For health care locations, this sort of exposure can be a potential nightmare. Can you imagine a hospital full of already ill and suffering patients who now have to add severe smoke exposure to their list of problems? The issues potentially created by this scenario are almost endless. What if this happens in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU)?

Not only may patients not recover, but there is an overwhelmingly strong chance the employees, the business, the owners, and the hospital itself may never recover. To pile on to this, unfortunately, we all live in a very litigious world. People sue for high dollar amounts for tripping on a curb or spilling coffee on themselves every day. Hospitals simply cannot financially afford for this to happen. Besides, once an accident occurs with a significant fire, the customer might lose confidence in the location’s safety and go to the next closest option.


The Importance of Hospital Fire Prevention

To prevent these incidents, you must have professional analysis, layouts, and construction to give yourself the best chance to contain a fire before it can spread out of control. Our team provides these solutions. As part of your design and build process, we can add valuable insight on layouts, finish selections, construction, and post-construction practices to ensure your property is as safe and fire-resistant on Day 1 as it is on Day 10,000. Replacing an industrial or residential home can be costly; however, it pales compared to a medical or healthcare facility.

People often forget, but medical locations have immense infrastructure that is not usually present in other properties. The unique nature of the fit-outs spans the entirety of interior construction types. Plumbing alone is enormous, with sinks and pipes seemingly everywhere. Electric and other utilities such as HVAC are immense and required at a substantially higher level to support the large number of people present on site. The continuous non-stop 24 hours, seven days a week occupancy often seen by health locations and the massive technology now integral to modern-day healthcare systems means a much higher level of utility services are required in this building type. Information Technology and its affiliated systems support the medical field as much as the doctors and medical professionals themselves. Doctors seem to always be in front of a computer, tablet, or benefitting from technology such as large medical equipment for surgeries, scans, etc.

The fit-out requirements do not stop there. Immense security systems are needed, appropriate floorings and draining throughout the building, and not to mention the periodic massive renovations caused by legal policy changes, hospital system policy changes, or the unforeseen events by pandemics such as the coronavirus. These and many other costs result in initial build-out costs, often ten times more costly than a typical office or residential space and many times more than a standard warehouse or industrial location. That same ten times or more cost passes through to the cost of insurance. Pile on massive liability costs associated with the medical field with the risks of lawsuits, and you have insurance costs that exceed what many large corporations make as top-line revenue in an entire year. With these massive costs a consistent and growing issue, companies and medical business owners must do everything they can to keep these costs low, as do their landlords.


Fire Prevention Tips for the Healthcare Industry

So how do you do this? Follow many of the basic principles of keeping your costs low for standard locations:


Updated Technology:  With technology so integral to the success of the systems located within a hospital, staying up to date is key to the medical business’s performance and its health system as a whole. With technology fueling so much of the systems involved within the property’s physical location, keeping up to date with technology will lower the possibilities of technological errors and keep systems functioning as well as possible. These technologies include HVAC, utilities, and other issues.


Security:  People often forget that the physical structure and exterior walls are not the only items insured. Technology, computers, furniture, and equipment also need to be insured. Today, equipment is as integral to the insurance structure of a medical group as any other. Equipment pieces such as large MRI scanners and other items are incredibly expensive, incredibly valuable, and very costly to insure. Top of the line security ensures these items remain where they need to be, and your insurance costs will reflect this. Safety alarms, alarms for particular pieces, code access entry throughout the property, burglar alarms, tamper proof systems, and surveillance alarms all help create a more secure facility.


Building Profiles:  Building profiles help insurance companies keep track of what you have and what you will have with your building and within your structure’s walls. It is difficult for insurance companies to track property upgrades and existing conditions for an average property, much less medical locations. Medical locations can vary in detail for locations large and small. This profile will make it easier for the insurance company to know what you have and what discounts are appropriate to provide to their client.


Bundle: Bundling insurance policies almost always results in pricing reductions, so why not take advantage of this easy loophole? With many uses and insurance types likely in place within medical locations, bundling can be one of the most significant cost-cutting tactics. 

Location Appearance Like any location, appearance can make a significant impact on insurance rates. Fortunately, medical locations tend to be on top of this due to the immense requirements they already have. Nonetheless, it should be considered.


Annual Discussions:   Make sure you annually catch up with your insurer to stay updated on your policy. As your business evolves, occupancy attributes change, and revenues differ, your policy options need to keep up and evolve as well. With policy options and offerings changing, annual discussions are necessary to ensure you are getting the best coverage possible. The best plan for your business last year may not be the best plan for you this year. Auto-renewing is not always the right answer. Make sure you are annually re-evaluating your options and shopping around for the best plan.


Deductibles:  Although it can be a tough pill to swallow, raising your deductible could equal substantial premium savings, often above 10%. Explore your deductible options as well. Policies offer different deductible amounts for different things, such as flooding, earthquake, equipment breakdown, business interruption, storm (wind, hurricane, hail, etc.). Make sure your business can afford the cost of any deductible in the event an unforeseen out of pocket expense occurs.


Supplementary Policies: Supplementing your primary policy with related policies can make a large difference while also protecting you. In flood-prone areas, consider flood insurance. It may cost more money; however, it will likely be offset in whole or part by the lower premium costs for the other insured elements – your property, personal items, furniture, and others.


Evaluate Inclusions/Exclusions: Often, policies include items you do not need and do not apply to your business. Policies often exclude relevant items to your business that are not practical to exclude. Do not only look at the price tag but also the practicality of your plan. Lenders and other outside parties often require that you hold insurance, so you might as well have a policy that applies to your business, is relevant, and effective when you need it. 


Having a qualified professional in any insurance situation will make a significant difference to any group’s bottom line. When it comes to medical properties, the difference is immense. With the industry being so specialized and equipment, technology, and systems consistently changing, a specialist is indeed required for a process to be as effective as possible. Our team is comprised of experienced professionals with the ability to execute for our clients effectively. We take pride in not only understanding your insurance policies but your business, along with keeping up to date on the newest products and technologies which are present or coming to market. Often, our clients receive suggestions from us for technologies they did not even know existed prior.

Our team will also keep a pulse on the status of your property, change in codes, material updates in the market, and procedure updates in the market. As opportunities for physical or procedural improvement arise, we will be sure to update our client community along with an implementation procedure. 

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