CMA Navigates New DOH Processes

Following a growing national trend, the State of New Jersey and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have recently adopted new electronic plan submission procedures for the review of healthcare projects. As one of the first firms to utilize the new processes, Charles Matsinger Associates has successfully developed a set of procedures to accommodate these new requirements. These in-house methodologies have put CMA at the forefront in navigating the particulars of each system.

The key to successfully navigating these submission procedures is preparation. At CMA, we begin with a thorough programming effort that includes a detailed review of the 2014 FGI Guidelines for the Design and Construction of Hospitals and Outpatient Facilities. During our written point-by-point review, we identify all applicable sections of the Guidelines that could potentially impact the design of the proposed project. This enables us to anticipate and address any potential issues that may be noted during each state’s review.

We also create a detailed schedule of milestones for each project in preparation for the submission.  This schedule includes key dates for completion as well as target dates for the receipt of A/E and client documentation. Based on the particulars of each state’s process, CMA sorts and, in some cases, uses a specific document naming convention in preparation for secure upload. Once all the requisite information is prepared, we begin to navigate through the submission process for each state.

The State of New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Department of Health, Division of Codes and Standards began implementation of its ePlans review system earlier this year. In brief, this system allows for individual project documents to be submitted online to the DCA for review. Each drawing and document is tracked into selected sections for review by multiple state reviewers according to their specific discipline. All review comments and updated documentation are exchanged exclusively through the system. Access to ePlans is available on a 24-hour basis, allowing responses to be managed around the clock, reducing overall turnaround time. Final approvals and release of documentation are returned via email notification.

Similarly, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Health, Division of Safety Inspection (DSI) implemented its system as of October 1, 2016. The system in Pennsylvania allows for upload of required files including the Plan Review Application, a Facility Narrative and a unified drawing set. Projects can be reviewed face-to-face by appointment with a single reviewer or submitted into the general review queue, for subsequent assignment to a reviewer. To aid in the process, CMA has proactively scheduled standing monthly appointments to facilitate one-on-one communication.  During these review meetings, CMA is able to have detailed discussions with the reviewer, answering questions and providing specific information regarding the projects. By faithfully adhering to these standing meetings as part of our process with the state’s review, CMA has been able to efficiently manage projects on behalf of our clients. When approvals are completed, CMA receives notice that final approval letters and documentation are available for download from Pennsylvania’s file sharing site.

Once approvals are received from either state, CMA closes the healthcare review process by submitting the marked documents back to our clients and their contractors to get permitting underway. Our detailed FGI Guidelines review, completed at the beginning of the project, is packaged along with the project narrative and square footage plans for use by the Field Inspectors who will clear the new spaces for occupancy.  Diligent preparation, planning and communication ensures Charles Matsinger Associates achieves positive outcomes for our healthcare clients.

We hope this insight into the new electronic submission processes for NJ and PA was helpful. Please let us know if we can assist you on your next project.


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