Patrick Bonds – Lexington Medical Center Extended Care
When Patrick Bonds walks through the halls of South Carolina’s Lexington Medical Center Extended Care, he often asks himself, “Is this a place where I would want one of my family members to live?”
With the facility’s clean, homelike environment and holiday celebrations, he says his answer is always “yes.”
As LMCEC’s director of facility and property services since 2018, Bonds has gone to great lengths to ensure that answer never changes. In 2014 , he earned the title of Certified Healthcare Facility Manager from the American Society for Health Care Engineering at the long-term healthcare facility. That taught him more about healthcare regulations—from the latest COVID-19 requirements to air-quality guidelines—and how they can impact facility construction and maintenance.
With three buildings to maintain, there’s no shortage of projects. During the pandemic, for instance, LMCEC upgraded an air quality system to “scrub” away airborne viruses with sophisticated air-filtration systems, providing better protection for patients and employees.
“We’re dedicated to providing nothing short of the best care for our residents,” says Bonds, a former Marine who draws from his military experience in field artillery. “We tip our hat to our healthcare workers who uphold the highest standards every day across our system, putting us among the best in the nation.”
Every breath you take
From repainting buildings to replacing floors and lighting, Bonds enjoys working at the largest skilled nursing facility in the Carolinas. Overseeing 388 beds, his goal is to make the property feel as much like home as possible for patients—many of whom are undergoing rehabilitation or suffering from dementia.
But it was his expertise in improving air quality that took on a special significance during the pandemic. By implementing an air-exchange system—in addition to installing negative air pressure in isolation rooms—his goal was to rid the facility of infectious airborne viruses.
When one of LMCEC’s buildings didn’t have a high enough rate of air exchange (given the latest requirements for COVID-19), Bonds increased the air-turnover rate by installing units that not only drew in fresh air faster, but removed air more quickly to reduce pressure in the building.
The team also installed a Boost Pressure Sensor air filtration system into air conditioners. By sending out negative and positive ions into the air, the system eliminates viruses and other harmful particulates.
“Having an understanding of the safety requirements and the importance of layout is valuable,” Bonds says. “You have to know what you can, or cannot, do.”
No place like home
One of Bonds’ favorite projects, undertaken in 2020, was the well-received renovation of the Cherokee Building, a two-story, 77,000-square-foot facility on LMCEC’s campus dedicated to long-term care, including dementia.
“That was really nice because these residents live here permanently,” Bonds says. “By sprucing up the facility, we gave them something they could be enjoy.”
Over three months, LMCEC installed new laminate flooring, added LED lighting, and re-painted the interior. It also added a new HVAC system—an upgrade Bonds says will generate savings for the organization annually. Bonds is also continuing to research future energy management systems to regulate heating and cooling to further reduce energy costs and use. In the meantime, he’s tapping into electrical rebates through a utility company, resulting in $11,000 worth of savings so far.
On the outside of the building the team added stucco to the external design and repainted the structure—a major facelift—that’s generated positive comments from friends and family.
“My favorite projects to work on are the ones where you can really see a difference,” Bonds says. “The changes we’ve made are nice, neater looking and easier to upkeep.”
The right fit
Executing projects like these was a goal of Bonds from the time he earned his associate’s degree in industrial technology from Midlands Technical College in 2007. Arriving at LMCEC in 2008, he spent his first six years working in construction. In time, he became more interested in maintenance.
With the encouragement of several mentors at LMCEC, Bonds began to research the requirements for gaining CHFM certification. In 2010, he enrolled in Owensboro Community and Technical College to take the accredited course. Later, in 2013, he earned a degree in business management from Southern Wesleyan University and became the maintenance supervisor the following year.
“I noticed early on that people managing the maintenance side of the medical center were in their jobs for a long time and seemed to be enjoying themselves,” Bonds observed. “It looked like a good job to have.”
In 2018—after passing the CHFM exam and earning his associate’s degree in applied science in healthcare facilities leadership—he was promoted to his current role of director in LMCEC’s long-term health operations. In 2021, he earned his MBA from the University of South Carolina in Aiken and gained an additional certification as a Certified Healthcare Operations Professional.
Getting to work
Certifications in hand, Bonds established a punch list of projects to work on—namely painting, flooring, lighting and HVAC updates.
“Everything went smoothly until COVID-19 hit in the middle of a painting and flooring project,” Bonds says. “We had to stop work for three months. When we could proceed, we had to learn how to work under new conditions in a pandemic environment.”
For that specific project, Bonds says he was working with two contractors. LMCEC treated them just like internal employees, offering them regular testing to promote workplace safety.
With vaccination rates rising and COVID-19 infections beginning to drop, Bonds says his team is currently gearing up for new projects and establishing budgets. With work on the Cherokee Building so successful in 2020, the remodeling projects will be duplicated at two other long-term care facilities—the Carol Campbell and Maxi Buildings—next year.
“We are here to meet the needs of the community—whatever they might be—to give patients a comfortable, safe and dignified place to live,” Bonds says. “The team never loses sight of the fact that these people are our friends, neighbors and family—and that means something to us here.”
View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. I 2022 Edition here.
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