DMC Children's Hospital brings sterile processing in-house

Detroit Medical Center's Children's Hospital of Michigan is constructing a 250,000-square-foot critical care tower, which will house its own sterile processing department, according to DMC Children's CEO Luanne Thomas Ewald.

Ms. Thomas Ewald says the expansion project presented a unique opportunity to pull sterile processing in-house. "We really wanted to take advantage of the fact that our ORs and pre-ops are under construction," she told Becker's Hospital Review in an interview.

The children's hospital already transferred sterile processing operations from the health system's central sterile processing department at DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital to a mobile unit attached to DMC Children's in November. Once the $155 million patient tower is completed this summer, DMC Children's will shift sterilization processes to the new unit, which will be located right outside the tower's 14 operating rooms.

"We are developing the sterile processing unit using lean facility design, so we wanted the surgical instruments to be part of the entire operating room process," said Ms. Thomas Ewald. "When a surgery gets scheduled, the instruments will also get scheduled."

DMC Children's will manage the unit internally, with the hospital's OR director serving as air traffic controller for all aspects of the OR, including central sterile processing. A dedicated sterile processing staff will work exclusively with the hospital's pediatric surgical instruments, which are much smaller and often more complicated to clean than adult instruments.

"We really have a dedicated team of people who understand what is supposed to go into certain sets and why," said Ms. Thomas Ewald. "It's really that specialization that will benefit us most."

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