Amanda Stephens – Methodist Healthcare
It’s not that other facilities managers don’t have to consider how to place electrical outlets or add plexiglass to workstations as part of their jobs.
But the stakes are higher for Amanda Stephens, director of facilities management for one of Methodist Healthcare’s nine hospitals in San Antonio, Texas. In fact, designing, planning and building spaces can be a matter of life and death, she says.
Since joining the health care network in July 2021, Stephens has been tasked with managing several projects simultaneously, including the installation of exterior signs and the development of a new area for patients with behavioral health needs. In addition to improving care, she says these projects have helped her develop as a leader.
“It’s highly regulated in health care. Not everyone can walk off the street and do it. There are so many codes and regulations, state and federal, to follow,” Stephens says.
Co-owned by the Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas Inc. and HCA Healthcare, Methodist Healthcare opened in San Antonio in 1963. It has grown to include nine hospitals, two ambulatory surgery centers, and four free standing emergency rooms, all serving more than 600,000 patients annually. The health care network employs more than 11,000 people, including 2,700 physicians.
Stephens directs facilities management at Methodist Hospital Specialty and Transplant, which was established in 1972. It’s known for its kidney, liver, and pancreas transplant programs and other specialty surgical services such as bariatric, robotic, urology, vascular, plastics and ophthalmology.
Methodist Hospital Specialty and Transplant provides the only inpatient behavioral health program in the San Antonio Methodist Healthcare system and has a forensic nursing service and a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or SANE, program that collects physical evidence to assist in prosecuting sexual assault cases and provides counseling and follow-up services.
In addition to her other duties, Stephens oversees the security and the biomed departments and is the facility rep for emergency management. Here, she leads committee meetings and directs facility exercises to prepare for emergencies or disasters.
A plethora of projects
One of her biggest challenges has been overseeing construction and renovation of inpatient and outpatient behavioral health units and the emergency department. Ground had just been broken for the project in May when Stephens chatted with Blueprint.
Space for the new emergency services was created by moving outpatient behavioral health services for areas including mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance use disorders, she says.
The Specialty and Transplant Center is already home to a 74-bed care unit that includes 10 beds for geriatric mental health care. Now, the hospital is expanding its transition area for behavioral health patients next to the ER, Stephens says.
The facilities will include improved safety measures for nurses, as well as a new camera system to monitor common areas and nursing stations. The $2 million project is expected to take six months.
Stephens says the facility will have required features that reduce chances of self-harm, too. These will include safety glass in windows, bolted-down furniture, light fixtures sheathed by plexiglass, and restroom fixtures and plumbing that can’t be pulled loose.
In July, Stephens began leading upgrades to the exterior of the Specialty and Transplant Center, a 12-month, $8.5 million project. Work includes a new exterior color, updated signage, refreshed landscaping and lighting, a new entrance canopy for the hospital and ER, and exterior paneling for parts of the main hospital and the Transplant Institute.
When coupled with the interior refurbishing and repainting completed in 2021, Stephens says the improvements also enhance visitor and patient comfort and confidence.
“Aesthetics are important for a top-notch customer experience. Something as seemingly simply as a fresh coat of paint can make a significant difference in how a patient feels when walking into or out of one of our buildings,” Stephens says.
Always learning and leading
Stephens grew up in Oregon and became acquainted with San Antonio and the Lone Star State while training there during her service in the Army.
Stephens earned her bachelor’s in criminal justice from the University of Arizona, her master’s degree in emergency and disaster management from American Military University and will complete her MBA from the University of Texas at San Antonio in December.
Stephens returned to San Antonio after her discharge and joined the Methodist Healthcare system in July 2021 after working in facilities management in health care for five years.
Serving as the Texas Association of Healthcare Facilities Management Region 8 Director is also helping Stephens build her skillset and knowledge as it’s an invaluable network for her. Region 8 encompasses the San Antonio to San Angelo area, and she helps facilitate educational programs and services while recruiting people to join the field.
As Stephens evolves in her role and builds her facilities team, she says her goal is to ensure the team grows both professionally and personally. To do so, she helps her employees find the classes they need in order to build their skillsets while accommodating their needs outside of work.
“One of the biggest values I and my employees live by is doing the right thing even when people aren’t looking,” Stephens says. “We need to remember that everyone in the hospital is our customers. The big focus for our department is taking care of the building but also taking care of the people.”
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