Case Study

Shelving Units Make Room at Mount Sinai

N/A means everything in a hospital's medical records department. Just ask Patricia Cunningham, RRA, medical records director for Mount Sinai Hospital Medical Center, Chicago. Spread over three floors, her department was being redesigned and consolidated into one central filing area. As part of the effort, Cunningham started researching various shelving companies.

Reviewing vendors' proposals, Fred Abrams, mobile aisle specialist with <%=company%> (Dallas, TX) felt competitors' systems would be slow and inefficient because their design allowed only two of the department's six file clerks to work at once. Equipto's design not only made room for all six clerks to work at the same time, but also gave the medical records department 22,000 more linear filing inches (LFI), or 88,000 more file holders, than the competitors'. Cunningham thought this was too good to be true, so Abrams arranged a visit to an Equipto factory so she could check out the systems.

At the plant, Cunningham saw how the mechanically-assisted shelving systems permit easy movement of heavy loads, including hundreds of medical files. She also saw how the design of the V-Grip shelving uprights on the Equipto mobile aisle units prevent files from getting caught behind the upright, as files can with other products. Another key feature of Equipto mobile aisle units is that files won't fall between shelves, a problem with Cunningham's old file system. Based on these features, Cunningham choose the Equipto mobile aisle system.

The result? With the Equipto mobile aisle system, Cunningham has been satisfied not only with the increased capacity, but also with how the files fit in the V-Grip design without falling between shelves.

Another area in central medical records that needed renovation was the microfiche/microfilm and fetal strip storage areas. Previously, inactive records stored on microfilm and microfiche had been stored across the street from the records department in another part of the hospital. Meanwhile, the fetal strips, which record fetal activity from monitors, were stored on the hospital's third floor.

Equipto designed a plan that would consolidate the film and fetal strips in one area. "We put microfiche cabinets on mobile aisle carriages in the center of the room and V-Grip shelving for the fetal strips on the walls surrounding the mobile aisle units," Abrams said. With the increased capacity for both microfilm and fetal strips, the department has plenty of room available for future inactive records.

Room to grow

Besides the central medical records department, 432-bed Mount Sinai had other departments that needed space utilization products. For instance, when the pediatrics unit moved into a new area of the hospital, shelving systems were needed to replace the old static models. The pediatric unit chose Equipto's manually operated mobile aisle system because of the space gained in LFIs.

"It's been such an improvement in space utilization and convenience," said Martha Ferguson, pediatric records manager. An added benefit involved color selection. "The file cabinets are a nice blue that coordinates with the countertops. In an institutional setting, money is always a concern, but color was a no-cost option with Equipto."

In yet another effort, Mount Sinai decided to convert an unused hospital basement into a storage facility. Most manufacturers had said the project was impossible because of poor drainage, humidity, and flooding. But if the hospital could find a way to build a shelving system where it could store records previously kept off-site, it would save a considerable amount of money.

Because the basement floor varied from five to nine inches high, a laser leveler, which uses a laser beam to help level the floor, was brought in to determine the floor's high and low points. After that, specially-designed levelers were used to raise the entire platform off the floor. A layer of plastic was then laid over the frame as a vapor barrier before the platform was put in place on top. The entire platform sits five to 5 1/2 in. off the floor.

With the platform in place, 61 mobile aisle carriages, average length 44 ft., and 208 sections of V-Grip bulk racks were installed. The total assembly of the basement storage area took less than a month.

With this new system, and the other records areas consolidated and enhanced, Mount Sinai now has a most valuable asset—room for growth.