Who he is: A professional engineer with a doctorate in engineering, Mark Chrisman, PhD, PE, guides the healthcare practice for Henderson Engineers as well as Henderson Building Solutions, the firm’s wholly owned construction management and commissioning subsidiary that specializes in engineer-led design-build projects, mostly in the healthcare space. He’s a fire protection engineer with technical proficiency in fire and life safety and code consulting, as well. His passion for learning has also been translated to a role as adjunct instructor at University of Kansas in the architectural engineering program. However, it’s his expertise in patient isolation room conversions, negative pressure rooms, air flow considerations, and electrical and medical gas infrastructure that allowed him to lead Henderson’s initiatives tied to COVID-19.

Year in review: Chrisman immediately recognized that Henderson’s specialization in healthcare, as well as experience in markets such as convention centers and sports arenas, could be beneficial to providers navigating the COVID-19 crisis. He moved to organize the company’s leadership team and engineers across various practices to become part of the solution, at one point leading a virtual meeting of 115 employees to formulate a vision and plan. Chrisman guided solutions ranging from assisting clinics in transitioning their testing areas for possible COVID-19-positive patients to converting shell spaces into observation units. Working with health systems, architects, and contractors, Chrisman additionally directed Henderson’s charge in creating alternate care sites and devised strategies to deploy temporary modular solutions as well as leverage hotels, dorms, convention centers, arenas, and auditoriums to assist healthcare systems pushed beyond capacity. He’s also been involved with renovations to support infection control and social distancing measures and assisted with code compliance issues for temporary testing and exam spaces. Aside from COVID-19 changes, over the last year Chrisman has served as principal-in-charge over fire and life safety design at several projects in Kansas, including at University of Kansas Health System Strawberry Hill Campus and KVC Hospitals Wichita. Chrisman was also involved with American Society of Healthcare Engineers and National Fire Protection Association technical committees, producing several thought-leadership and technical pieces on healthcare-related topics.

Industry impact: Chrisman recognized long before the coronavirus pandemic that flexibility, technology, and infection control are critical hallmarks of healthcare design. For example, he’s an advocate for telehealth, championing infrastructure that protects patient information all while creating comfortable and convenient spaces where physicians can treat patients virtually. He works to help owners vet manufacturers and products to prove the science behind infection control claims and seeks knowledge on technology advancements to remove touch points and prevent germ transmission. He’s also worked with clients on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning solutions regarding infectious disease transmission. His response to this current crisis is a testament to a career of identifying solutions that will keep building users safe.