Brian Weldy – HealthTrust
- Written by: David Harry
- Produced by: Liz Fallon & Ian Miller
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Imagine a hospital that can monitor its HVAC as closely as it tracks the blood pressure of patients. It uses sensors and controls to generate real-time data on energy use, temperature and air pressure throughout the facilities.
As vice president for HealthTrust FacilitiGroup, Brian Weldy hopes to do just this for the nationwide network of hospitals and care centers managed by HealthTrust’s parent company, HCA Healthcare. He also wants to curb energy use and energy costs.
“My role is to ensure HCA Healthcare runs its hospitals in the most effective way possible through facility management optimization,” Weldy says. “My main focus is how to make our buildings more intuitive, effective and intelligent.”
Headquartered in Nashville, HealthTrust manages facilities for HCA Healthcare, which operates 184 hospitals and 2,000 care facilities which include surgery centers, freestanding emergency rooms, urgent care centers and physician clinics.
The HCA Healthcare network has grown in the last several years through acquisitions of 12 BetterMed Urgent Care Centers in Virginia and North Carolina in April 2022; 59 MD Now Urgent Care facilities in Florida in January 2022; and Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New Hampshire in June 2020.
Caring and growing
Weldy celebrated his 25th anniversary with HCA Healthcare in 2022 and joined its HealthTrust FacilitiGroup in 2020. He leads a team of about 40 people tasked with maintaining facilities in 21 states and the U.K.
Among the teams Weldy leads, one is responsible for facilities management services. That same team also manages contracts with providers for services like elevator maintenance or water treatment and oversees purchasing non-medical equipment from air filters to cooling towers.
A second team manages capital reinvestment—fixing or replacing everything from roads and parking lots to boilers, chillers and HVAC systems. There’s a third team that responds to disasters—anything from a leak to a flood or preparing for a hurricane. Finally, there’s a technology team that develops internal applications such as the work order management system and a platform that helps ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.
Often, the work is complicated. Hospital equipment like air handling systems, for instance, need to provide different levels of humidity and air pressure—or even negative air pressure—to operating rooms, patient suites and office areas.
“We’re the troubleshooters,” he says. “If there’s a problem in a facility, they’ll call us and try to figure out how to solve it.”
Not ordinary buildings
Shortly after Weldy spoke with Blueprint in December 2022, he and his team installed electrical submetering equipment to the main electrical panel and more than 70 submetering points throughout Southern Hills Medical Center in Nashville.
“We need to know how electricity is used within a building instead of just seeing what’s coming in at the utility company’s meter,” Weldy says. “Today’s cars have more ‘smart’ features than buildings. But as more IoT sensor solutions are becoming available soon, it will be similar to strapping on a fitness tracker to your building.”
Weldy’s teams also continue to install LED lighting at facilities, replace chillers and add new or updated air handler units with more sensors that detect and report the real-time efficiency and operation of equipment.
As Weldy explains, with additional sensors combining data on air flow, power input, temperatures and pressure, it’s possible to monitor the efficiency of an air handler unit in real time. His staff can continually tune a unit for peak operation and maintain it proactively, preventing breakdowns.
To better manage the maintenance demands, Weldy and his team built a work order management system that generates and manages more than 100,000 service tickets per month. Data from the system also provides the full picture of facilities and maintenance issues for Weldy and his team—such as what systems or equipment could be replaced in capital improvement projects.
The maintenance data also feeds into Complyos, a cloud-based compliance platform Weldy developed in 2017. Complyos helps ensure that HCA Healthcare hospitals comply with Joint Commission standards for patient care as well as other agencies. It also stores more than 1 million compliance rating documents, he says.
When introducing technology, Weldy vets ideas through a process that begins with a proof of concept, then proof of value and finally testing. During testing, he selects pilot sites before implementing innovations throughout the organization.
“I challenge my team to make our applications and solutions simple and intuitive. It’s easy to make something complex, it’s far more difficult to make things simple,” Weldy says.
Born in Hot Springs, South Dakota, he earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. He starting his career in 1983 with the Veteran’s Administration health care system before joining HCA Healthcare in 1997.
After a quarter century in health care facilities engineering and management, Weldy is excited for what’s to come.
“Over time, hospital buildings will transform into high performance buildings reducing energy spending and use while maintaining good indoor air quality,” Weldy says. “We’ll be able to move building maintenance more towards a predictive and prescriptive proactive response rather than reactive response.”
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