"The pandemic forced us to make rapid adjustments to the building environment, often necessitating changes to be implemented on the fly and at all hours of the day."
— Susan Leinweaver, CPM, FMA, RPA, Senior Property Manager, Physicians Realty Trust
Stretching across nearly five acres on the Baylor University Medical Center (BUMC) campus in Dallas is the Baylor Scott & White Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center—the largest outpatient cancer treatment center in North Texas. Owned and managed by Physicians Realty Trust, the nearly half-a-million-square-foot property has an even larger reputation for exceeding occupant expectations.
This year has been an exceptional one for the property. The Baylor Scott & White Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center achieved the BOMA 360 Performance Program designation early in 2020, demonstrating that the property is managed and operated using industry best practices across the board. The property scored particularly well in the criteria category of Life Safety/Security/Risk Management—a proficiency that has proved to be invaluable as the team continues to respond to challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"With more than 2,500 staff members and patients entering the property every day, it is paramount that detailed plans and trained individuals are in place, ensuring everyone can perform their duties or receive necessary care in a safe and secure environment," explains Senior Property Manager Susan Leinweaver, CPM, FMA, RPA. For Leinweaver and her team, this traditionally involves everything from ensuring all emergency procedures are up to date to maintaining communications with nearby first responders and coordinating life safety drills and training for on-site personnel. This critical work requires careful planning and coordination during the best of times, and the ongoing pandemic and related new safety guidelines and protocols for healthcare facilities have only elevated its importance.
"At the onset of the pandemic, we worked together to secure building entrances, set up screening protocols, adjust elevator access, discuss proper signage, figure out ways to offset the elimination of traditional valet services and implement enhanced janitorial services," Leinweaver explains. "The pandemic forced us to make rapid adjustments to the building environment, often necessitating changes to be implemented on the fly and at all hours of the day."
Fortunately, Leinweaver and the property team already had a strong foundation to build upon. Properties across the Physicians Realty Trust portfolio adhere to the same high standard—and going through the BOMA 360 Performance Program application process helped ensure nothing was being overlooked. "It’s much more efficient for us to review a list of items we ought to be doing rather than starting from scratch. That allows our management team to focus more on the delivery of care—which is the piece that matters most," Leinweaver notes.
Plus, having high life safety-related standards correlates with success in other areas—like operations and maintenance, training and even tenant relations. "During COVID-19, we have remained committed to offering tenant activities. They are a key component of the culture we’ve worked so hard to establish—but we’ve had to creatively adapt our programming," Leinweaver shares. For example, a recent performance by a quartet from the Dallas Wind Symphony was held outside in a socially distanced manner. The sound was amplified so that patients both inside and outside the facility could enjoy listening. "Safety always comes first," she says, "but being able to provide a welcome distraction to both healthcare workers providing services and patients receiving treatment remains a bright spot for so many of us, even if we have to wear personal protection to do it."
Sometimes, the team’s tenant outreach is specifically focused on safety and security issues, like in the case of a popular social event held last year that encouraged tenants to get to know on-campus police department personnel over coffee, or the recent fire evacuation training sessions held via Zoom. "We’re fortunate that our occupant base of healthcare professionals understands the need to be prepared on every front," asserts Leinweaver.
Their efforts have not only garnered the property a BOMA 360 designation, they also went on to earn the 2020 BOMA International TOBY® Award in the Medical Office Building category this past July. These two prestigious accomplishments serve as testaments to Leinweaver and her team’s commitment to ensure the property is prepared for whatever challenges may come its way.
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