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A day in the life of facility repair engineers

Tim Crowe checks on cleaning tubes in the Trane chillers in one of the hospital's mechanical rooms.

Tim Crowe turns off an HVAC unit to perform preventative maintenance.

Tim Crowe began his career at Akron Children’s Hospital in 1990 as a phlebotomist in the lab. Today he is the man in charge of the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system for the engineering and facility repair department.

Some may see the career change as a 180-degree turn, but for Crowe it was a calling.

Crowe works on a reheat box in the catwalk area over surgery.

Crowe works on a reheat box in the catwalk area over surgery.

A self-described “fix-it” guy, he always dreamed of a job where he could use his hands. In his current position, he does just that.

Crowe takes apart a pneumatic tower water diverter valve from one of the water towers. The valve has been in place since 1990 and needed rebuilding.

Crowe takes apart a pneumatic tower water diverter valve from one of the water towers.

As one of the hospital’s skilled mechanics, he spends the majority of his days walking through the labyrinth of tucked away hallways that lead to mammoth mechanical rooms full of hissing and whizzing water pumps, chillers, compressors and air handlers.

Crowe checks the belt on one of the many air handlers he's charged with maintaining.

Crowe checks the belt on one of the many air handlers he’s charged with maintaining.

Like Crowe, Matt Hirsch is an Akron Children’s veteran. Twenty-six of his 30 years here have been in engineering.

Twice a week he does maintenance work offsite at one of the 22 Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics (ACHP) offices located around northeast Ohio.

Every time a new ACHP office opens, it’s Hirsch’s job to help get the office set up and ready for patient care.

“I make sure the lighting, the plumbing and all the furniture are in good working order,” he said. “If something breaks – they call me.”

Hirsch organizes plumbing supplies before starting a job.

Hirsch organizes plumbing supplies before starting a job.

Even when in an underground pit, Crowe never loses sight of the fact that he is an integral part of the patient care team.

“My main concern is for the patients, their families and keeping them comfortable,” he said. “We like to keep the air temperature as close as we can to 75 degrees whether it’s heated up to that temperature or cooled down.”

Crowe climbed down an 8-foot ladder into a pit that stores about 10,000 gallons of water to check on a sump pump that circulates the water that's heated and cooled for the hospital's ventilation system.

Crowe checks on a sump pump that circulates the water that’s heated and cooled for the hospital’s ventilation system.

Hirsch prides himself on repurposing and recycling old materials whenever he can. “I was green before it was cool,” he said. “Rather than throw away old resuscitator boxes, I use them to store screws, nails, nuts and bolts. It’s handy because the clear boxes allow me to easily see what I’m looking for.”

Hirsch makes sure he has all the necessary tools before heading to another job.

Hirsch makes sure he has all the necessary tools before heading to another job.

He points to a set of purple filing cabinets that were once in someone’s office.

“When the employee left, the new hire wasn’t quite as into purple,” he said. “Rather than throw away perfectly good filing cabinets, we brought them down to our work room and put them to good use.”

Any given day can mean moving office furniture; hanging blinds, white boards and shelves;, adjusting drawers and chairs; putting up cubicle walls; and fixing ceiling tiles.

Hirsch and co-worker Arlen Stevens troubleshoot a problem with the medical air pump in the Considine building.

Hirsch and co-worker Arlen Stevens troubleshoot a problem with a medical air pump.

There are days where you don’t feel like you’re getting much done, but in reality you are,” said Hirsch.

 

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