Regulatory environment in Florida for healthcare construction will be different POST-COVID
By Michael Compton, AIA, ACHA, EDAC
On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, the AAH committee of the AIA Orlando component held their monthly Meeting in the Virtual featuring guest speaker, Scott Waltz, Agency for Health Care Administration’s Office of Plans and Construction Bureau Chief.
When asked about replacing their physical plan submissions process with digital, Mr. Waltz had this to say: "For the past few years, we have been working with a vendor to develop a system to replace our current project tracking system. The system under development will enable facilities and their design consultants to submit plans and other project documents electronically and receive updates regarding the progress of the submission review through a portal. Unfortunately, a series of delays prevented the system from being deployed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic."
Concerning in-person submission reviews, Waltz said: "Initially we choose to eliminate face-to-face plan review meetings, known as “Stand-up reviews”, to safeguard the health of our staff and the project design professionals. We quickly transitioned to offering stand-up reviews using Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams. These web-based conferencing applications have allowed our teams to conduct real-time plan reviews and have similar discussions with the project designers and facility representatives as the traditional in-person meetings afford. With the exception of some minor technical issues, this new approach has been very successful."
"We anticipate using this technology beyond the current state of emergency as it has proven to have several advantages over in-person only meetings. First, it eliminates the need for the design professionals and facility representatives to travel to the office and the printing of paper plans. It also allows us greater flexibility in assigning a substitute reviewer by drawing from remotely located offices. Finally, it improves our ability to provide supervisory input through direct participation in the review meeting when needed." said Mr. Waltz
In closing it was an enlightening meeting understanding the effects COVID has placed on our regulatory agencies and Chief Waltz closed the meeting with these comments, "We will continue to gather feedback from our team and from our partners in the healthcare architecture and engineering community as we evaluate the capability of our current systems and continue the development of new systems to improve the review process and outcomes."