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Washington County Health System
  The Odd Couple

Robinwood Construction Update Newsletter


He could be depicted as a salty dog. She could be described as pleasantly meticulous. Neal McKelvey and Kristie Carbaugh speak the same language and finish one another’s thoughts. They respect and rely on each another. That is good news for the three thousand employees and thousands of patients who will count on this odd couple to complete the new hospital on time.

To build a 510,000-square-foot, 280-patient-bed medical center, you need to balance long-term planning with attention to detail. You also need a top-notch project design management team to transform a seven-year hospital vision into “open for business” status.

Neal McKelvey can walk through hallways of ductwork and electrical wiring and know whether things are going as planned. As the new hospital’s project executive, McKelvey pulls from his ten years of healthcare construction experience and previous career as chief operations officer for Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring. He is responsible for the new regional medical center’s project milestones as well as the supervision of architects, engineers, and the construction company. McKelvey can speak business vernacular, as he updates the hospital’s board of directors and senior management—and construction lingo as he converses with a foreman.

McKelvey is also the new hospital’s watchdog. He sometimes has to say “no” more then he would like. He cautions curious employees not to tour the new facility due to construction hazards. He pores over work order changes to ensure that budget and project milestones remain in check. Most importantly, McKelvey manages showstoppers, work-arounds, and change orders—all while keeping a December 2010 opening in clear view.

If the devil is in the details, then Kristie Carbaugh, RN, should carry a pitchfork. As the construction project coordinator, Carbaugh is the “go-to-person” and medical subject matter expert for the building crew, architects, engineers, and consultants. On the flipside, Carbaugh serves as the hospital staff’s clinical voice ensuring those needs are met—from positioning medical gases on a patient room wall to measuring the size of a janitor’s closet.
Carbaugh saw the construction project coordinator role as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity—and she came with the right qualifications. In 2009, her peers nominated Carbaugh as Clinical Nurse of the Year. Carbaugh is not only known and respected as a great clinician, she also has ten years of medical-surgical nursing experience, giving her a broad spectrum of patient care knowledge. “Medical-surgical nurses must use their clinical assessment skills at all times,” said Mary Towe, vice president of nursing. “There are no alarms to rely on.”

Clinical assessment skills translate well into construction coordination. In this role, Carbaugh interviews electricians and fellow nurses, all while listening, analyzing, and effectively communicating. When the construction team needed to know the type of plug required for the T.V. connections, Carbaugh knew it had to be compatible with the nurse-call system. She also knew that purchasing would have the plug’s specifications (was it square or round and how many pins did it have?). “Kristie gets down to a level of detail that boggles the mind,” commented McKelvey.

Every day, Carbaugh has her hands in a plethora of projects. She demos patient recliner chairs and asks nurses to find the right fit. She works with the pharmacy and a manufacturer to establish policies on how to deliver medications throughout the new hospital using a state-of-the-art tube system. She learns how safety equipment plays an important role when outfitting a behavioral health patient room.

As McKelvey and Carbaugh prepare for the final stretch of construction and transition, they keep lists. After a field trip to Cumberland to witness a hospital move, Kristie’s notes filled two legal pad pages. Neal’s pad contained five high level points. But both agreed on a very important action plan—make sure the sixty-some hospital departments attend in-services on how to move to the new facility. Whether running operations on the ground or at the 10,000-foot level, count on this “odd couple” to make our hospital vision a reality.


© 2010
Washington County Health System
251 East Antietam Street
Hagerstown, MD 21740

TDD: 1-800-735-2258
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