HHS 2019 Team of the Year
In October 2018, Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle, devastating Panama City. The HHS environmental services team at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center braved the storm and supported our hospital partner in getting the facility back to working order as quickly as possible. In recognition of their efforts, the HHS team at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center, as well as the additional personnel that came to support the facility, were named HHS Team of the Year for 2019. This is their story.
Brad Griffin, CEO, Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center:
October 10th, 2018 is a day we’ll never forget here at Gulf Coast. The storm hit the building and reached its peak at about 12:30pm. The peak lasted for about two to three hours, and while it was here it really just wrecked the building. Everyone that was here tried to get the patients into a safe part of the building and then worked to contain the damage as best as possible to keep the wind from totally destroying the building. It was a war zone on the third floor.
The whole community was devastated. There was no power, no water, cell phones were down, and it was very difficult to get around. If you had not gotten cash before the storm, you didn’t have cash then. But we were able to distribute cash to everyone who was here during the storm, including our HHS colleagues. And I think that says a lot about the relationship, not only on a corporate level between our two companies, but also how we view each other inside the hospital. The HHS team is part of the Gulf Coast Regional family, and we are forever grateful for our partnership with HHS and the things your company did to get us back in shape as quickly as we did.
Holly Dean, COO, Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center:
There were hundreds of individuals staying here after the storm. There were coworkers, family members, pets—we were practically running a hotel once we evacuated patients. While cleaning, everyone played a role, it didn’t matter who it was. Everyone grabbed a trash can or cleaning cloths and just did what they could to keep the building dry. The response of the team was remarkable, to say the least. I don’t think that HHS Director Tom Curlings stopped for days. He and the team helped to clean an entire building with structural damage and shattered windows. In that moment, I never had to question what HHS was going to do. People just showed up. They came and they worked day and night with smiles on their faces. Everyone was exhausted, but they had a job to do. We became like a family and lived here for weeks on end. The level of camaraderie you can gain is pretty amazing.
Sabrina Jones, Vice President, Environmental Services:
Jonathan Beveridge, my EVP, really stepped up. He brought a team of eight to the facility to help the moment the hurricane ended. They came in the dark to get here and started knocking out all of the areas that had flooded. They worked for eight to ten hours, got two hours of sleep, and then started up again. The teams from the Florida market were incredible. We had people from Georgia come in later. After the first wave, we set it up to continue waves so that everyone could get a break, because when you got here, you couldn’t stop.
Jonathan Beveridge, Executive Vice President, Environmental Services:
As we do with our Crisis Response Team, we had a team staged already. We were on site within about 12 hours of the storm hitting. Got here at two in the morning and immediately started dust mopping the halls. We got about two hours of sleep, and then started first thing in the morning again with the clean up efforts. We had a group of 23 people, both hourly and management, that came to support our efforts. It was really something.
Tom Curlings, Director, Environmental Services:
We just wanted to make sure that the team was able to get the rest they needed. We ran 12 hour shifts so that it would allow half of the team to rest and check on their families while the other half would be able to get done what was needed at the facility. We had situations where people stayed in the hospital because they had lost their homes and didn’t have anything to go home to.
We lost 22 employees the day of the storm—they just didn’t have homes anymore and had to leave town. Being able to transfer them within HHS was great. We were able to relocate our personnel without missing a beat and keeping them working, and I think that’s one of the greatest things that we could accomplish—to take care of our people.
Eddie Griffin, Assistant Director, Environmental Services:
The scariest moment was when I received a call from my wife and my daughter. They said a tree had come through the roof. My daughter got a scratch on the back of her leg and she didn’t know what it was from. It was actually a four-inch limb from a pine tree that went through several walls. If it would have been about three seconds sooner, I wouldn’t have my daughter. At that moment, I didn’t feel like I was in control for my family, but I knew I had to keep it together for my team at the facility—to keep a smile on my face, be there if they needed to talk, tell them to keep their head up.