When people think of a hospital, they usually think of nurses and doctors, but in reality, it takes so much more. Whether you’re an inpatient at OCH Regional Medical Center or an outpatient getting bloodwork, x-rays or any number of medical tests or procedures, there’s a whole team of professionals who work behind the scenes every day to keep the hospital running on all cylinders.
Before most people wake up in the morning, employees in the OCH Plant Operations Department are already at work to ensure the hospital is equipped to care for patients in both routine situations and during disasters.
“Once a month at 5 a.m. we simulate a power outage for one hour to make sure our generators are working properly so that if we lose power, they will kick in and provide emergency power. In the operating rooms, the generators start working in one point two seconds in case of a power outage, and that’s crucial to keeping the patient alive,” said Red Malone, a 27-year plant ops veteran. “I love what I do because it helps the patients. I enjoy working on things and always have,” Malone added.
Other plant ops employees such as Steve McClellan are responsible for making sure the medical air pumps in surgery and the boilers that are used to sterilize surgical equipment are working properly. And thanks to Jimmie Saulsberry, patient beds, nurse call buttons and televisions are checked daily to ensure everything works as it should.
Charles Evans has been the only biomedical engineer at OCH for the past ten years and can be credited for maintaining all of the medical equipment in the hospital, including surgery tables, patient monitors, defibrillators, infant warmers, IV pumps, blood pressure machines and more.
“It’s a balance between monthly scheduled preventative maintenance and repairing equipment as needed. No two days are ever alike, and it’s a rewarding job because what I’m doing keeps the hospital running so patients can receive the care they need,” said Evans.
Just as equipment is crucial to patient care so is a sterile environment. With more than 100 patient and procedure rooms, as well as the emergency department, operating rooms, outpatient unit, labor and delivery unit and other clinical areas, it takes a team of environmental service technicians to sterilize the hospital in order to prevent the spread of infections and viruses.
“I am ultimately responsible for rooms to stay disinfected, and I feel like it’s one of the most important jobs in the hospital,” said OCH Environmental Service Technician Yulonda Austin. “Monitoring and disinfecting the emergency, radiology and lab departments is what I’ve been doing for 13 years, and I love it!”
Hundreds of patients coming in and out of the hospital every week creates a need for people like James Harris—the assistant director of materials management. He is accountable for ordering all of the hospital’s day-to-day supplies such as IV starter kits and fluids, masks, gloves, garbage bags, patient gowns, toilet paper, paper towels and hand sanitizer.
“We get our main supplies in on Tuesday and Friday, so first thing in the morning we’re unloading trucks and filling the supply rooms for each floor. “I like that I’m able to be on my feet and hands-on part of the day, and the other half of the day I’m taking inventory and on the computer placing orders,” explained Harris.
During National Hospital Week, May 10-16, facilities across the country are recognizing the aspects of a hospital that often get overlooked. The week-long celebration, which dates back to 1921, is a time for all hospital employees to be shown appreciation for their various roles.
“Many patients and visitors don’t realize that the people who provide patient care are not always the ones in scrubs or white coats. From transporters to insurance and billing to admissions, all OCH employees play a vital role in providing excellent care to our patients, and that’s why during National Hospital Week we want to recognize all of our employees for a job well done,” said OCH Administrator/CEO Richard Hilton.
OCH will honor its employees on Friday with a picnic-themed luncheon. For more information about the Medical Center, visit www.och.org.