Pictured from left: Lee Krueger, Jeremiah Dove, Mark Utz, Ray Rodriguez and Joe Myers
For most of us, Sunday is typically a day of rest. But for our Facilities team, there was nothing typical about Sunday, Jan. 10. Master Maintenance Mechanic Ray Rodriguez, a UVA Culpeper Hospital employee for just two months, was on call for the first time that day. He responded to a call regarding a power outage in the computer server room and immediately began troubleshooting the cause. What he found was a basement flooded with almost 8 feet of water.
“I remember thinking I have to keep myself and the hospital safe and I need to act quickly,” says Rodriguez. To do this, he knew he needed help; he turned first to Jeremiah Dove, the hospital’s Master Electrician. “I knew what was in that room and the first thing we had to do was cut the breakers that fed the electrical panels,” says Dove.
Once certain the power was off, Dove entered the high water to search for the source of the leak. “It was ice cold — it took my breath away,” he says. “I was in regular clothes but I had no time to go change because I knew it had to be done right then. Patients needed heat and the water was rising quickly.”
With no immediate sign of where the leak originated, Dove knew the problem was going to take time to resolve. He notified Mark Utz, Administrative Director of Environment of Care, who initiated Incident Command. From that point on, it was all hands on deck.
Dozens of our own support personnel as well as local construction teams, fire and rescue and others responded to the crisis. “I was amazed at how many people came in on a Sunday,” says Clinical Engineering Lead Biomedical Specialist Lee Krueger, who worked to get the Meditech and nurse call systems back online. “There was no panic. I was really impressed with the level of professionalism. Everyone just did what needed to be done to make the situation better for our patients,” he says.
It took almost 12 hours for pumps to drain the water from the basement room. In order to do his job, Dove had no choice but to remain in the cold and wet. “Around 2 that day, a woman from one of the construction companies brought me a pair of waders so I was able to change. That made a big difference,” he says.
To stay motivated throughout the lengthy ordeal, Dove says he thought about the patients. “There is a little bit of added pressure knowing so many patients are depending on you, but that makes me perform at my best because I focus on getting the job done,” he says. “We’re told as part of our training to remember that it could be our loved one in the hospital, so that’s always on my mind. I also want the hospital to look good because that’s our team.”
Dove eventually discovered the source of the flood was a leak in an 8” fire system line that feeds the hospital sprinkler system. With that knowledge, crews were able to cut the water supply solely to that line and restore domestic water to the rest of the facility.
With the basement water levels finally subsiding, Dove and colleagues Joe Myers and Rodriguez were able to restore heat to the building by running new electrical service to the panels in the boiler room and replacing motors that had been completely submerged. (Rodriguez drove to Zion Crossroads at 8 p.m. that evening to meet a vendor that supplied the new motors.)
“Everyone came together to work as a team,” says Rodriguez. “Mark showed true leadership throughout the whole event. He was calm and collected. He offered his assistance and worked alongside everyone. Jeremiah, Lee and Joe did not hesitate to come in on a Sunday … even though it was the Redskins playoffs game! They did not complain about anything and they were all determined to stay until all problems were resolved."
“Facilities staff, Ray, Jeremiah, Joe and Lee, responded that morning and worked until the immediate needs were resolved around midnight,” adds Utz. “They all returned the next morning and continued working on the issues for the next couple of days. Their commitment and dedication to our patients during this time was indicative of the quality and excellence that our employees demonstrate every day in all that they do. An emergency shines a light on that commitment and because of them we resumed normal operations on Monday.”
Thank you to our Facilities team for all of your efforts to keep our hospital up and running!
There were so many people involved in resolving this crisis that we cannot list them all. But here is a breakdown of some of the personnel and community members who lent a hand:
- Jeremiah Dove (UVA Culpeper Hospital)
- Joe Myers (UVA Culpeper Hospital)
- Ray Rodriquez (UVA Culpeper Hospital)
- Ken Dodson
- Mark James (Sammy James Construction)
- Moores Electric and Mechanical
- Drew Fox
- Whitney Wigglesworth
- Tom McCoy (UVA Culpeper Hospital)
- Additional Security
- Culpeper Volunteer Fire Department (Jr. Perryman) and crews
- Lee Krueger (UVA Clinical Engineering)
- Ron Clark (UVA IT)
- Gary Wise (Town of Culpeper Public Works) and crew Damion Nash (Automated Logic)