All In A Day’s Work……….#262 (the 2000’s)

Colony Park

Colony Park

The on call weekend quandary for the most part were minimal, the issuing of a pager initiated much earlier by the long departed David Yarborough having been eliminated, Gary now notified by phone.   An early Saturday afternoon receiving a call from work,  his maintenance assistant Ray  explaining the stand-by Onan generator was running,  Gary assuming there was a power outage.  The generator supplying essential 110 volt electricity to the hallway lights ,  fire alarm system and other specific designated outlets with a power failure, giving notice he was on his way.    Arriving Gary was puzzled, at first glance it look like the facility had electricity and under normal circumstances the generator shouldn’t be running, but upon inspection noticed the kitchen had suffered a major loss of power.  Placing a call to MID,  the electric utility service,  asking if there was a partial outage in the area,  a responder arriving  appraising that all three legs of the 208 volts from their pole mounted transformer to Colony Park were intact, the power loss that the generator was sensing is apparently an onsite problem.   Opening the input breaker panel, the problem was apparent, one of the three 208 volt fuse holding terminals was totally destroyed, completely melted down,  the generator kicking in  because of the lost of one of the main voltage legs.

Modesto Irrigation District - Modesto's electric utility provider

Modesto Irrigation District – Modesto’s electric utility provider

The lost of the leg was serious,  the kitchen freezer,  dishwasher hot water booster heater and walk-in refrigerator, and almost all appliance that operates on 208 volts was now inoperable.   Realizing that it was an internal problem, not the responsibility of MID,  Gary making  phone call after phone call,   scurrying the yellow pages attempting to find a responsive service company  on a Saturday afternoon.  Finding lady luck smiling ,  the service  manager at Champion Industries on Tully Ave happened to be in the office and agreeing to  dispatch a service technician.  The Technician observing the problem, shaking his head stating that there was no way he would be able to find a 40-year-old fuse terminal on short notice.   Gary coming up with a solution,  suggesting he just jump it and bypass the fuse and terminal,  the technician again shaking his head, reiterating that it was a violation of code to connect a  main utility power source to a building without a fused or breaker.  Gary restating it again, this time wording it a little different,  all he wanted was for him to bypass the damaged in an inoperative panel, not one currently in use.  The younger technician hesitant at first but got the subliminal message, installing a temporary jumper.  Gary waiting for the technician to leave before pulling the panel lever restoring  electricity to the building,  the generator shutting down, deciding that it would be better if some things were left unsaid about what had just transpired..

X shaped Colony Park

X shaped Colony Park

3/4 inch Snake

3/4 inch Snake

Before Gary’s arrival Roto-Rooter was a frequent visitor to Colony Park,  an on-call maintenance person not always available in the past.   The X-shaped facility having an east and west length of the building 6 inch sewer lines, the west side the only one to every back up,  it started in the kitchen traveling south the length of the building to the city main line on E. Orangeburg Ave.   The last area before exiting was the Alzheimer’s wing where the residents attempted to flush wash cloths and sundry items, on occasion causing a backup all the way to the kitchen before being discovered.  Gary soon found a contributing factor, the building contractors failed to install a kitchen grease trap, consequently  forty years of grease had been deposited down this 6 inch line that even hydro-jetting couldn’t clear.   Armed with a  100 Ft.  3/8 inch hand cranked snake and a 75 Ft.  3/4 inch electric  he managed the weekly backups, his only concern  the power unit was not equipped with a reverse, the heavy 3/4 inch cable having to be pulled out by hand, a sweat professing experience.  Gary issued an edict for a backup, shut down all water use on the effected line including toilet flushing and all kitchen usage especially the dishwasher, not the least surprised at the dietary staff not complying without second warning.

M. Santos & Sons

M. Santos & Sons

An afternoon call for a backup originating in dietary, Gary snaking the familiar clean-out but the 3/8 inch auger coming to a halt,  the electric 3/4 inch blade too big to make the 90 degree turn into the 4 inch kitchen accessory line opening.    A call to Roto Rooter, they too unable to clear the line deciding to inspect with a camera.   The camera revealing the entire embedded pipe network beneath the concrete floor showed signs of  collapse followed by another casualty,  the camera got stuck and a growing concern, unable to run any water the kitchen may have to shut down.  Placing a call to Brad, the administrator, then continued to scour the valley yellow pages in search of a plumbing source who would respond.  It was soon apparent after explaining the situation on the phone, the only response was to schedule a later date walk-through appraisal .  During a conversation with a non receptive spokesperson they suggested calling M. Santos & Sons an industrial plumbing contractor.  Gary following through finding Santos son Tony in the office, agreeing to stop-by and appraise the situation later that afternoon.  With Santos and Brad’s arrival  Tony pointing out what would be involved with a cement floor, the time element, the noise of  a jack hammer, replacing the pipes and the removed concrete, Brad expressing the possibility for the kitchen to remain open,  Gary adding the facility was also in code violation, not having a grease trap.  The good news was the crew could work at night and  lay down a plywood covering so the kitchen could still function during the day and his crew could start in the morning with an excavator  for the installation of the below ground grease trap and pipes,  saying the only acceptable location for the grease trap would be in the blacktop alley behind the kitchen.     Sashi Singh the dietary supervisor remained calm and collected taking the event in stride, her staff  utilizing paper plates, cups and disposable utensils for resident food service, the outside hot water outlet provided for cleaning the delivery carts was put in use to clean the cooking accoutrements.    Much to Gary’s surprise the project was completed in four days  including the installation of the  grease,  the project costing over $23,000.

Administrator Brad Kikuta

Administrator Brad Kikuta

 As Administrator Brad Kikuta never hesitated in displaying his appreciation to the 120 employees of  Colony Park.   During the spring, summer and fall Gary would wheel the two barbecue grills outside and he and Brad would grill hamburgers, hot dogs or tri-tips and chicken for the facility staff.  Sashi, the dietary supervisor would provide the salad, sides, drink and condiments, the night shift able to partake of left over’s, but also receiving delivered pizzas.  Gary and Brad volunteering to grill when social services provided outdoor lunch events for residences and attending family members.  Brad a reflection of accomplishment, a graduate of Fresno State, his Japanese family having their property confiscated,  interned for the duration of second world war.  Gary having experienced the stewardship of authority during his past years of employment but never had witnessed the leadership quality that Brad possessed.     Included beside management was Brad’s interest in the outward appearance of Colony Park, personally making trips to Home Depot to purchase flowers and roses bushes to acclaim the area beneath the windows of the residence room.  Gary bringing an idea to the attention of the administrator proposing a large gazebos for the grass center area of the circular drive in front of the building.  Brad concurring with the idea,  Gary starting a cost-effective search but unable to find a ready-made suitable gazebo putting forth a plan to build the structure himself.  With the purchase of the material he enabled his project,  Brad taking time to assist in the pouring of a concrete slab and the laying of a 24 inch wide stone  pathway  giving  access to the gazebos.  Gary wasn’t surprised when receiving a request for three more similar structures in the fenced-in resident patio area including the same stone presentations.

Sashi, Gary and Brenda

Sashi, Gary and Brenda

With the department supervisors involved in a diversified number of ongoing projects, quality assurance headed the list,  each department given a cover investigating assignment.  The supervisor would draw the name of a skilled nursing facility in Modesto,  visiting and introducing themselves as a friend or family member of a prospective resident,  inquiring and asking about a tour of the facility.   Upon completing the visit they file a written record of their assignment and during a meeting verbally critique the physical appearance, room cleanliness, kitchen and dining areas and social activities.  Other more interesting work related sessions included a 70 mile retreat to Jackson and the Jackson Rancheria Casino, the group caravaning by car for the lunch endowed meeting.  On another occasion a retreat to Columbia and the state park, Gary inviting Sashi Singh the dietary supervisor and Brenda Miller, medical records to travel with him,  the three stopping on their return, his workplace friends being introduced to his 87-year-old mother who lived a short distance from the park.   Gary’s ongoing responsibility at Colony Park although sometimes trying was never without challenge.

Mom at Columbia State Park

Mom at Columbia State Park

The 9:00 a.m. morning department supervisors meeting concluded,  all were to return at 11:00  for an in service presentation concerning the  alzheimer’s unit.  It wasn’t unusual to have a ‘all department’ in service, Gary having attended and logged hundreds of healthcare related contact hours from in services in the past 2o years.  The group assembled, the speaker introduced and as expected was a doctor,  but not a geriatric or psychiatric physician but a psychologist.  Gary’s interest coming to attention, the presentation was on the environmental shell that accompanies dementia and the onset of alzheimer’s.  He provided insight to actions that the caregivers can take and changes to the physical environment of their area,  giving example of a more home like atmosphere in the day room and  another example,  providing a cabinet beside each residents room entrance door,  the occupants having a shelf for some type of family memorabilia or pictures.  Gary mentioning his interest in the project, Brad suggesting he look into the cost and feasibility.  A search for a reasonable facsimile was nil,  everything even close was either too big or enclosed in glass which was an absolute no in the alzheimer’s wing. but  Gary wasn’t without a plan B,  when all else fails, build it yourself.   The project wasn’t that complex, traveling to Home Depot for the wood, Don’s Mobile Glass honing the 1/2 inch clear plastic for the front.  Nine 2 ft. x 3 ft. x 8in. boxes with a sliding plastic front cover plate, a shelf each for three residences, the cabinets finished with clear coat decorative trim.  Gary mounted the finished products with welcoming results and cataloguing it as all in day’s work.

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