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Building Operating Management

From Chillers to Children: Variety Keeps FM Interesting



Kids are the obvious priority at Texas Children's Hospital, but Gumeringer also keeps a careful eye on operating efficiently and reining in costs.


Texas Children’s, like most organizations, also must work within a budget. Gumeringer has contributed to this effort. One key, he says, is having a system of benchmarks, such as critically evaluating the number of additional personnel needed as the hospital adds square footage. 

Gumeringer and his team frequently talk with the engineering staff to make sure systems are running at peak operating efficiency. He also has implemented multiple energy-saving projects, such as installing energy-efficient lighting, motors, and other equipment. “We’ve been very attentive,” he says. In addition, Texas Children’s has a long history of negotiating strong electricity contracts, so when the hospital adds space, it’s able to take advantage of the prevailing rate.

(Because Texas Children’s is winding down a large building program, Gumeringer and his team will focus on continuing to optimize systems to take advantage of more electronic technology, and to improve response time.)

In large part because of these efforts, while the footprint of the Texas Children’s system rose by about 85 percent between 2008 and 2015, the facilities management budget only increased 37 percent. 

One program “near and dear” to Gumeringer’s heart is Texas Children’s Global Health, which partners with governmental organizations around the world to share expertise. In 1996, Texas Children’s and Baylor College of Medicine launched Baylor College of Medicine International Pediatric Aids Initiative (BIPAI), with a goal of improving the health and lives of children infected with HIV. 

BIPAI currently operates a network of clinical centers of excellence and programs in Houston, Romania, and ten African countries. They provide training and technical assistance and share best practices and resources. 

In 2009, Gumeringer spent a week training engineers from clinic sites in Africa. Several years later, he traveled to Africa and Romania to tour the sites, conduct facility assessments, and develop training programs to help the engineers learn how to operate their facilities, how to maintain systems and equipment, and how to manage construction projects, among other things. “It’s been one of the really cool things that I’ve been able to do,” he says. 

Keeping kids in mind

While the staff at Texas Children’s Hospital must deal with serious medical issues, it’s also a place for children. “We’re in the pediatric business so we’ve got to do some things that are fun for the kids,” Gumeringer says. Its ambulance service is called “the kangaroo crew.” The sides of the ambulances and aircraft feature pictures of a kangaroo — “of course with a pouch,” Gumeringer adds. The facilities incorporate more bright and primary colors than an adult facility likely would, he says. 

Because Texas Children’s is winding down a large building program, Gumeringer will focus on continuing to optimize systems to take advantage of more electronic technology, and to improve response time. He’ll also try to leverage solutions that minimize the need for additional employees. “This year is going to be a year of what I would describe as intense system optimization,” he adds. 

Gumeringer remains steadfast in his passion for ensuring excellence at Texas Children’s. “What I enjoy most is the ability to be involved in so many different things,” he says. 


Continue Reading: Cover Story: Bert Gumeringer, Texas Children's Hospital

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posted on 11/21/2018

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