Behind the Scenes: AM Miles with Maintenance

As you’ve probably gathered by now, I write these blog posts to give everyone an idea of what it is like to work in different areas of healthcare. Many of you probably don’t think much about the Maintenance side of healthcare. I don’t think about that at my appointments anyways. So, let’s talk about it!

This morning I spent 3 hours with Jameson, a member of the Maintenance team.

Now, not to be dramatic, but I got a facial afterwards and nearly fell asleep. I now know how to check a fire extinguisher. My feet hurt. I know where all the ‘secret’ rooms are that I didn’t realize existed. I’m tired. I know how many peanut butters and disinfecting wipes we keep on hand. I’m ready to go home for the week (it’s Tuesday). In all of those three hours, Jameson never sat down or stopped moving. I swear we walked three miles… minimum.

Now that I’ve gotten those complaints out of my system, here’s the important stuff. You probably think of your doctor, dentist, pharmacist, etc., as your service providers, the bringers of value. However, Maintenance is those service providers’ service providers. Without Maintenance there are no lights, roofs leak, no safety regulations, signs aren’t installed, varmints get in the trash, no prescriptions are delivered, exam room beds do not work, landscaping is a jungle, no snacks in the break room… you get the point.

Most people probably only notice Maintenance when something is bad or wrong, but they are the ones making sure that things go right. The day I tagged along with Jameson was a building inspection morning. We started by stocking the break rooms, inventorying items to make a Sam’s Club list, and taking out the trash/recycling. We delivered tables to a department for an employee’s workplace baby shower. As we moved on to checking every light bulb, fire extinguisher, exit sign, and emergency light, it struck me how Maintenance’s role is the perfect metaphor for preventative healthcare.

Preventative healthcare has become more of a ‘buzz word’ you may have heard, but if you haven’t, it’s basically taking efforts to prevent or find health issues before they become a really big problem. Think getting your annual well women’s exam, regular blood tests, or even eating a nutritious diet. I think of these things as the core of my wellbeing. Maybe Jameson delivering 26 packages of freight (prescription medications, internet equipment, dental supplies) is the healthcare system’s version of staying hydrated. It seems fairly inconsequential at the time, but nothing can happen if you are dehydrated. I mean, what good is coming to your medical checkup if the health equipment isn’t working?

So, I hope, if you gain nothing else from reading this, next time you come in for an appointment you notice the motion doors working. Or maybe you start noticing the stocked pharmacy, clean carpets, art hung on the wall, or the operational dental chairs and offer up a silent (or not so silent, whatever you’re feeling) thanks to the people behind the scenes, like Jameson, who ensure that all our staff have to worry about is how to best take care of you.