In small hospitals, it's common for employees to wear many hats. At Walla Walla General Hospital, you might call Bruce Price the Mad Hatter. With five distinct disciplines in his purview as Plant Services director, the jovial man has his hands full. And it's a good thing because without his team, the hospital would have a hard time running.
As the overseer of Plant Services, Housekeeping, Safety, Security and the Environment of Care, Bruce and his 15-person team shoulder much responsibility to keep the hospital functioning well.
Luckily, the group runs like a well-oiled machine. Someone is on call 24–7, and workers generally arrive between 6 and 8 a.m. each day. Bruce says, "My crew—I wouldn't want to run the hospital without them. They work together, help each other and are always there for one another. That makes all the difference. I give them all the credit."
Daily tasks involve maintenance, electrical work, groundskeeping and the care of boilers, floors, ceilings and everything in between. Additionally, his team is heavily involved with construction projects at the hospital including the recent Medical Pavilion, which opened in the spring.
"It's the best job a person could have," he adds. "It's never boring and changes constantly. If you don't like what you're doing, in five minutes you'll be doing something different. I highly recommend this as a career choice."
And something very different about the hospital is the unique relationship it maintains with community organizations. Through Bruce's department, for example, WWGH partners with Columbia Industries—an organization that provides training and employment services to the mentally and physically disabled. With the partnership, three to five specially trained individuals come to the hospital weekly to do various jobs such as yard work, cleaning debris, mowing lawns and cleaning up after bushes and trees.
The program is a win-win. The hospital is able to keep up with the never-ending yard work, and workers are able to earn a living in a safe, monitored environment. "The program helps keep them active and out and about," says Bruce.
Talking about his work overall, Bruce says, "I love my job and I love the people. Our leadership is very supportive."
Whether it's mowing, wiring lights, planning new buildings or partnering with the community, the men and women in Plant Services are an integral part of the hospital team. Unsung heroes, they allow doctors, nurses and clinicians to do what they do best—provide patient care in a safe, clean and beautiful environment.