Penn Medicine Opens the Largest Healthcare Equipment Sterilization Facility in the Country

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PHILADELPHIA—Today, Penn Medicine opened its new Interventional Support Center (ISC), the largest instrument processing and surgical supply preparation facility in the country. Located in Southwest Philadelphia, the ISC is the first facility of its kind in Pennsylvania. In this space, staff will both sterilize and package thousands of instruments each day in preparation for surgeries and procedures — from basic scissors and clamps to advanced robotic instruments.

At nearly 110,000 square feet, the ISC is designed to process instruments from up to 200 surgical cases each day. Penn purchased the entire building in 2018 and built a physical plant to support the ISC’s operations. Today, the ISC will combine instrument processing services from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) and Pennsylvania Hospital (PAH), as well as three outpatient facilities: the Perelman Center, Penn Medicine Radnor, and the Tuttleman Center. The Pavilion — also known as HUP East — will also be supported by the ISC when it opens this fall.

“The opening of the ISC sets a new standard for sterile instrument processing. It also marks a new approach from Penn Medicine. By moving our processing operations from the traditional hospital setting to an offsite, dedicated facility, we’re able to increase efficiency in a high-quality, cost-effective way — all while keeping up with increasing demand,” said Chris Pastore, ISC managing director. “Plus, the ISC alleviates space at our clinical locations, providing the breathing room hospital departments need to expand services. For example, thanks to the ISC’s capacity, Penn Medicine has been able to dedicate more space to patients at the new HUP East hospital opening later this year.”

In addition to providing hospital locations with much-needed real estate for patient care, consolidating these services off-site helps to minimize any redundant equipment across the health system. The ISC itself was designed with efficiency in mind – built with Six Sigma expertise, it is designed with a one-way forward flow approach that enables efficient instrument processing. The facility includes features that enhance sterilization efficiency, such as the use of clean steam using reverse osmosis water. The ISC will be a nearly dust-free facility thanks to increased air changes and filtration. Airlocks throughout the building also prevent cross-contamination of air between areas where dirty instruments are process and clean ones are repackaged.

The ISC team currently consists of 140 employees coming together from on-site instrument processing facilities at HUP and PAH. In addition, 25 new employees were hired to staff the new building. The facility was created with ergonomic principles and employee well-being in mind, enabling a comfortable workspace for the ISC team members. All major equipment allows for personalized adjustments for staff, such as height adjustable sinks and assembly tables.

“Clean instruments are a crucial component of patient safety. Through centralized processing with state-of-the-art equipment, the ISC is an important element behind Penn Medicine’s efforts to continue delivering high-quality, advanced patient care and safety,” said Phil Okala, Chief Operating Officer at the University of Pennsylvania Health System. “The ISC also stands as a unique, leading example for multi-hospital health systems looking to create improved processing systems and thoughtfully plan the best ways to maximize capacity for patient care.”

Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, excellence in patient care, and community service. The organization consists of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Penn’s Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school.

The Perelman School of Medicine is consistently among the nation’s top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $550 million awarded in the 2022 fiscal year. Home to a proud history of “firsts” in medicine, Penn Medicine teams have pioneered discoveries and innovations that have shaped modern medicine, including recent breakthroughs such as CAR T cell therapy for cancer and the mRNA technology used in COVID-19 vaccines.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities stretch from the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania to the New Jersey shore. These include the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Chester County Hospital, Lancaster General Health, Penn Medicine Princeton Health, and Pennsylvania Hospital—the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.

Penn Medicine is an $11.1 billion enterprise powered by more than 49,000 talented faculty and staff.

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