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Martin G. Schoonderwoerd, CHFM, FASHE

Martin G. Schoonderwoerd, CHFM, FASHE

Candidate Speech:
Transcript Adobe PDF

Director of Engineering
Sharp Metropolitan Medical Campus
San Diego, CA


Marty Schoonderwoerd is a San Diego native and Director of Engineering for Sharp Metropoli-tan Medical Campus in San Diego, California; his campus includes two hospitals with over 800 beds and several Medical Office Buildings. Sharp Health Care system was awarded the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award in 2007 and his hospital was recognized by Press-Ganey in 2010 for maintaining 99th percentile patient satisfaction scores for a year. He has been Director of Engineering at 3 other San Diego hospitals and in health care engineering 23 years.

From 2005 through 2008, he served on the ASHE Board of Directors, representing Region 9 which included California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. In 2009 and 2010, he served as President of the California Society for Health Care Engineering.

Marty started his 43 year career in facility engineering and management with a 20-year career with the US Navy. His Navy engineering career included a tour in the rivers in Vietnam on small gunboats (that was a bit more exciting than he needed), Chief Engineer of several progressively larger ships including a tour as Damage Control Assistant (DCA) on the aircraft carrier USS Midway, and a couple of shore-based ship engineering and maintenance support positions. Marty chose to go into health care engineering after he left the Navy because as he puts it, “the only real difference between a ship and a hospital is that the hospital is usually not gray, is not supposed to get underway, and no one is shooting at you.” Because of the major similarities between engineering responsibility on a ship and in a hospital, he sees his health care engineering career as just an extension of what began with the US Navy. It is still fun and he looks forward to the challenges every day.

Marty earned a BS degree in Business Administration from Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and his Masters from University of Phoenix. His hands-on, “deck-plate knowledge” of engineering systems was earned and learned through a number of US Navy schools and watch qualifications on six ships as Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW). His engineering plant experience includes steam, diesel, and gas turbine systems. As DCA on USS Midway, Marty was responsible for all life safety systems and training, HVAC systems, a large on-board sick bay (hospital), all piping systems and elevators, and most of the other auxiliary equipment and systems that also exist in hospitals. He has been a CHFM since 2001 and FASHE since 2010.

Marty’s interests include travel, his Grandkids, the San Diego Padres (win or lose), fishing, and custom knife making. He and his wife Vicki live in the Serra Mesa part of San Diego, California overlooking Mission Valley. They have five children and seven grandchildren.


  1. The 2010-2012 Strategic Plan addresses the fact that the ASHE membership has become increasingly diverse. What do you see as some of the common challenges facing the entire membership no matter their specific discipline and what can ASHE do to ensure that their needs are being met?

    I see several challenges.

    1. The first challenge is diversity in ASHE leadership. ASHE’s membership is very diverse and I believe that ASHE should explore ways to better reflect that diversity in the ASHE Board of Directors. We have many members who have made significant contributions to ASHE and the health care engineering profession and are every bit as passionate about ASHE’s mission and goals as any existing or past board member. These members have much to contribute, and ASHE is missing a huge talent pool by excluding them from board positions.

    2. The second challenge is education opportunities directed at the diversity of ASHE’s membership. While a diverse membership is a strength for any organization, meeting the educational needs of its broad and diverse spectrum of members while still focusing on ASHE’s core mission is a huge challenge. One excellent new program started within the past year or so that is gaining traction is the ASHE Boot Camp, intended to help new facility managers hit the ground running in their new positions. Watch the ASHE website for dates and locations; it is also planned as a track at the ASHE Annual.

    3. The third challenge is the increasing pace of change in health care today. Much of this is being driven by the daily exponential advancements in technology, but more is being driven by politics. It is essential that ASHE keep an ear to the ground to ensure that we can provide sound leadership for our members regarding the changes as soon as they develop and be available to provide appropriate input to our nation’s leaders as they build the roadmap for the future of health care. We can be certain that change will occur and ASHE must provide leadership for its members in the challenge of the changes ahead.

    4. A fourth challenge and perhaps the most significant challenge is one that ASHE has already begun to address and that is the multiple and often conflicting codes and regulations with which health care is expected to comply. I feel strongly that ASHE’s “One Code” initiative is a bold first step in the right direction and, if given the chance to be your ASHE president, I intend to support and further develop this effort.

  2. Using the 2010-2012 Strategic Plan as a guide, what would you like to accomplish during your term as president?

    1. One Code initiative. Although I cannot claim credit for this recent initiative, I would like to be its champion and carry it forward. It not only makes sense and will make life simpler for our membership in their hospitals; it should reduce the cost of health care, which is a concept in full alignment with all of the various health care change initiatives being discussed in our nation’s capital. This will support the first of the Strategic Plan’s goals.

    2. Chapter support. Many of the state and regional ASHE affiliated chapters are seeing a decline in the percentage of ASHE members. While ASHE has recognized this and has adjusted the ASHE membership criteria for affiliated chapter awards, I want to address the underlying issue. I believe that in today’s era of shrinking budgets, our peers are making a choice between ASHE and the affiliated chapters. I want to promote the concept that ASHE and affiliated chapter memberships provide a complementary focus and are worth the price of both memberships; affiliated chapters focus on state and local issues, ASHE’s focus is on national issues. ASHE needs members who are also members in the local chapters—that is the basis of the compliance superhighway concept first presented by Wisconsin’s Steve Vinopal a couple of years ago where chapters and ASHE communicate up and down regarding local and national issues, enabling ASHE to establish grassroots initiatives such as the successful campaign to oppose the proposed NFPA change from four-year to annual smoke damper inspections a few years ago. I would like to reexamine the possibility of a mutual membership renewal discount for joining both ASHE and an affiliated chapter. The Strategic Plan goal of capacity refers to a “nimble association”—support for ASHE and affiliated chapter membership is a key element of this goal.

    3. Lead the effort to expand board office to reflect the diversity of our membership. I have already discussed what I would like to accomplish in answer to question 1 above.

    4. Establish a Best Practices Task Force. Good ideas should be shared. In recent years, ASHE has established and expanded several significant ways of sharing and showcasing good ideas; these include the ASHE LISTSERV┬« , the PDC, and the ASHE Annual Conference. I would like to develop a Web-based resource to present best practices for members. We currently have a number of resources on the ASHE website, and the LISTSERV archives are a treasure chest of information and discussion on many topics. After each ASHE conference, disks containing information and presentations from the conference are made available to members. I envision establishing one more resource and link the others we already have to it. That resource would present short discussions of problems our members have encountered and the creative solution they employed to solve that problem. I admit there are a number of details that must be worked out for this concept to be viable, and I’m certain that some incentive may be required for members to submit input. I want to establish a small task force to explore and develop this idea. My hospital recently used a passive sound suppression system to solve a sound transmission problem in a nursing unit after we replaced carpet in the corridor with hard flooring. I mentioned our solution to the problem on the LISTSERV and offered to share pictures and details; I was astounded at the interest and requests I received. I cheerfully provided responses to all who asked, but this suggested the seed concept for a Best Practices Forum. I believe this will help members bring added value to their organizations.

      I also will strongly support several other ASHE initiatives and programs, including the effort to promote building and project commissioning.

  3. What initiatives will you spearhead to help members achieve their personal goals?

    I like this question because it is very broad and I’m certain that the personal goals of our membership are as diverse as the membership itself. I believe it would be presumptuous of me to claim to know the membership’s personal goals, but I believe most members’ personal goals include new opportunities and recognition within their organizations for what they are contributing to their organizations and health care in general. I intend to ask the membership what their personal goals are and how ASHE can help them achieve them by means of a survey, quite possibly by using the survey that is usually available at the ASHE Annual and use that information to develop new initiatives. I intend to explore ways of reflecting the diversity of ASHE membership in the ASHE Board of Directors. I also believe that locating the ASHE Annual Conference and PDC in cities that offer family-friendly opportunities, we can encourage members to bring their families to ASHE conferences and combine business with pleasure as well as help increase attendance at the conferences.

  4. ...their professional goals?

    Accomplishing the following two initiatives will help members achieve professional goals, but advising their organizations of their achievements now being done by ASHE is excellent and any opportunity to share additional recognition with their organization should be pursued. This includes ASHE committee membership, ASHE conference presentations, CHFM, SASHE, and FASHE. Our members ARE professionals and recognition for their achievements is our responsibility.

    1. Member training opportunities.
      I would like to expand the training opportunities for members. Although a two- or three-day training seminar is my own favorite way to receive training, it is a fact that in today’s era of tightening budgets, the funding to travel for training seminars is shrinking and many members are not able to attend two- and three-day seminars. The webinars are one option, but I want to explore and develop new and additional ways of providing that training at an affordable level. I also want to add to training topics where feasible to include some of our diverse members whose needs may not presently be addressed. ASHE Bootcamp is one new training program whose availability I would like to expand to members beyond live conferences.

    2. Increase CHFM preparation opportunities. I will challenge our task forces to expand training opportunities to support our members as they strive to achieve CHFM certification.

  5. Please share information about your background and personal interests.

    I am a 20-year U.S. Navy veteran and spent most of my naval career in shipboard engineering. I saw combat action in the rivers of Viet Nam and served on seven assorted ships, ranging from gunboats to a couple of destroyers and an aircraft carrier, the USS Midway. When I decided to move from the Navy to health care engineering, it was an easy move for me—I was accustomed to responsibility for electrical distribution and emergency power, plumbing, elevators, HVAC, food services equipment, steam machinery— all of which I found do exist in a hospital. Even more, I was used to an environment where my customers had no real idea what my department did as long as their equipment worked; any plant project explanations needed to be presented in layman’s terms in order to be understood. In California, the hospitals even moved around a little from time to time like a small ship at the pier whenever we had an earthquake.

    I have been in health care engineering for 23 years and am presently the Director of Engineering for the 2.7 million-square-foot Sharp Metropolitan Medical Campus in San Diego, California, which houses two hospitals totaling over 800 beds, an acute rehab center and several medical office buildings. I served on the ASHE Board of Directors from 2005 through 2008, am a CHFM since 2001, and earned my FASHE in 2010. In 2009 and 2010, I served as President of the California Society for Healthcare Engineering (CSHE) and currently serve as Immediate Past President.

    I have seven grandkids who frequently ask me to go fishing with them and take them to see the Padres play (they are young enough to not be upset when the Pads lose). My wife Vicki is my rock and usually enjoys coming with me to ASHE conferences.

    In my spare time, I craft custom hunting knives; several past ASHE board members have one.

Personal Letter

Greetings, ASHE Members!

My name is Martin Schoonderwoerd and I want to be your ASHE President in 2013. I served as president of California Society for Healthcare Engineering (CSHE) in 2009 and 2010 and am presently serving as CSHE’s immediate past president. I served on the ASHE Board of Directors representing Region 9 (California, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada) from 2005 through 2008. I have been in healthcare engineering for 23 years and am presently Director of Engineering at Sharp Metropolitan Medical Campus in San Diego, with responsibility for two hospitals and 800+ beds. I am also a 20-year Navy veteran and spent most of those 20 years aboard ship and often as Chief Engineer; I did a tour in Vietnam on gunboats in the “brown water navy”.

I would appreciate being considered worthy of your vote for the 2013 ASHE President. To those of you who are NOT presently members of your affiliated state chapter, I encourage you to join them for a number of reasons; first, being a member of both gives you participation in two societies with similar but complementary goals - ASHE has a national focus, while your chapter has a state and local focus. The second reason is that the strength of both organizations depends upon members in both organizations that can pass local and state issues up to the national level and help get the information from ASHE out at the local level through your state chapter. This gives both organization more “muscle” - both organizations have greater influence at their respective levels with a greater number of joint memberships. I also believe that in today’s tight economy, many are forced to choose between joining ASHE and an affiliated chapter and we are seeing dual memberships decline around the country.

This leads me into the first of my 3 goals as ASHE president - to find a way to provide a registration discount for people who are members of a state chapter and a member of ASHE. I know there are IRS restrictions since each organization is a separate non-profit entity, but I am very confident that a solution for some form of discount can be worked out for memberships in both ASHE and CSHE. I believe in asking “why not?” and finding a way to get it done.

My second goal is to strongly support the ASHE “ONE CODE” effort. In the current health care reform environment, cost efficiency is critical. Multiple conflicting codes waste health care dollars with no gain in service or safety. We MUST support this effort. Only one position seems to be consistently shared among all the dogs in the healthcare reform fight and that is that healthcare WILL change. ASHE must ensure that the health care environment is ready for the inevitable change and establishing one code will help healthcare be ready for whatever changes lie ahead.

My third goal is to broaden diversity in ASHE leadership. One of ASHE’s strengths is the professional diversity of its membership, yet many of those members are not eligible for Board positions. I believe that ASHE should explore ways to better reflect that professional diversity in the ASHE Board of Directors. We have many members who have made significant contributions to ASHE and are every bit as passionate about ASHE’s mission and goals as any existing or past board member. ASHE is missing a huge talent pool by excluding them from Board positions.

Any society is only as good as the leaders they elect. I sincerely hope that I have earned your confidence and consideration to be your next ASHE president. Take the time to vote – ASHE needs your vote. I need your vote. Thank you.

Marty Schoonderwoerd, MBA, CHFM, FASHE

The American Society for Healthcare Engineering of the American Hospital Association
155 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 400. Chicago, IL 60606
Phone: 312-422-3800 | Fax: 312-422-4571