Lutheran’s Unsung Heroes – Facilities
Well-deserved recognition and praise are given to our clinical caregivers who provide direct care for our patients. However, there are hundreds of behind-the-scenes caregivers who play a vital role in hospital operations and ensuring our caregivers have everything they need to provide our patients with world class care. The Facilities team is our latest group of unsung heroes, and we are proud to recognize their incredible work.
The Facilities team at Lutheran is comprised of nearly 30 caregivers. They provide 24/7, 365 days a year coverage, supporting the 92-acre campus totaling more than one million square feet, which includes the hospital, Collier Hospice, West Pines and several off-site clinics.
On average, they complete more than 1,200 work orders each month including preventative maintenance and corrective repairs. The team supports the chiller plant, which cools the hospital and is equivalent to providing air conditioning to 1,000 average-sized homes. The combined capacity of the air handlers they maintain moves almost 800,000 cubic feet of air every minute. It would take an average human five years to breathe this same amount of air.
There is a carpentry shop where they can build anything the hospital needs, including an indoor dirt box for a recent groundbreaking celebration.
“The team has skilled tradesmen that can handle almost anything that is needed,” said David Svoboda, chief building engineer at Lutheran. “We run a power plant, carpentry shop, electrical shop and sheet metal shop. We are kind of like a small city on campus.”
David has worked for Lutheran for six years and oversees a team of 10 that manages the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system, utilities, and more.
Dwayne Gaeddert, Facilities manager, has been at Lutheran for 40 years in a number of roles including carpenter, building services supervisor and manager. He began managing clinics about a year ago and is transitioning into a lead role working with our clinics in Colorado, Montana and Wyoming.
“I stayed at Lutheran for four decades because of the people,” Dwayne said. “We have a wonderful team that’s been like a family, and I love getting to know so many caregivers throughout the hospital. Leadership really supports the caregivers and there were a lot of advancement opportunities.”
Dwayne said his team is different from the other legacy SCL Health care sites because years ago, the director had a unique vision of doing all construction work in-house.
“The team is comprised of painters, electricians and carpenters and the work they’ve done in-house has amounted to huge cost savings for the department compared to what it would have cost if a general contractor had done the work,” said Dwayne.
The Facilities team has also tackled numerous emergency situations over the years. A few months ago, a fire line that ran below an MRI trailer ruptured. The team was able to build a 100-foot tunnel that they framed, insulated and installed lighting and electrical in in about a week and a half.
“We work with a great group of people,” said Dwayne. “They’re willing to adapt to any situation and task asked of them and they work well together. Everyone is always up for a new challenge.”
During the height of the pandemic, the Facilities team built a COVID-19 testing booth and barriers for the nurse stations, registration desks and check-in areas for the nearby clinics. David’s team installed air machines in rooms and modified the rooms so they could exhaust the air outside. They also worked with construction, design, engineers, and architects to modify the hospital to create as many negative air flow spaces as they could.
“My team wears a lot of hats, and we do everything we can to provide a safe and clean environment for patients and caregivers,” said David.
The team has also been involved in building the new Lutheran hospital regarding HVAC, cabinetry, doors and hardware and keying for 1,000+ doors. “Building a new hospital has been really rewarding for all of us,” David said. “I love getting feedback from my team, and being able to put our experiences into changes that are coming to fruition in the new hospital is exciting.”
David said: “We all really enjoy the wide range of projects we get to be involved in. Every day is different and brings a new challenge that you couldn’t have imagined the previous day. It makes people do their best and makes it very rewarding to work here. The team works incredibly hard, and they truly care about getting things right. We run everything to the ground and try our best to address all issues as quickly as possible, so the caregivers are comfortable at work.”
Dwayne added: “We’ve built good relationships with the caregivers so when they ask for something they’re able to trust us that we’re going to take care of it. I try to impress that upon my team. If someone comes to us with an idea, we always problem-solve it and nine times out of 10, we’re able to come up with a solution. We want to help make their jobs easier.”
We sometimes forget that the amazing work that our clinical teams do would not be possible without all the hardworking and dedicated behind-the-scenes teams here at Lutheran. Thank you to these extraordinary people. We are grateful for all that you do!