Running a facility as multifaceted as Homeland is a nonstop, all-year-around job.
Snow removal and grass cutting. HVAC repairs and maintenance. Cleaning water coolers. Hanging holiday decorations. Inspecting emergency generators.
“The water temperatures are probably the most important in our daily checks,” says Maintenance Director Steve Ramper. “Water temperatures can’t be over 110 degrees in a skilled care facility because of the risk of burns. We check multiple locations throughout the building daily, making sure it’s below that 110-degree mark.”
Every day, the eight people of Homeland’s maintenance department efficiently go about their duties, ensuring that all systems work correctly. The demands are never-ending, but the rewards are tangible in assuring that residents are safe and comfortable.
“When I came here, I was surprised at all that goes on behind the scenes for a building maintenance department,” says Assistant Director of Maintenance James Sparkman. “It’s pretty complex.”
Checking the emergency systems are functioning is a critical weekly task. The staff tests the backup generators, fire extinguishers, and even the bulbs in the exit signs.
And then there are the resident needs, which are a priority as well.
“A problem with the phone, furniture to move, a picture to hang,” says James. “It’s usually straightforward stuff, but it is a priority because for the residents, this is their home and it is very important.”
The residents know they count on James when they need something.
“I like the interaction with them,” he says. “I like to put a smile on their face. It means a lot to me. I pride myself on taking care of whatever they need.”
Homeland staffs the maintenance department around the clock, and Ramper and Sparkman are always on call. Every Homeland department intersects with maintenance in some way, so coordination and collaboration are a constant. There are planned projects, such as moving furniture for housekeeping, or unplanned, such as repairing an appliance for dietary.
During the pandemic, maintenance took on a new role – spreading good cheer. While department staffers worked with Homeland security and health officials to assure compliance with strict safety guidelines, they also visited residents “to make sure they were okay,” says Steve.
“Just stopping and saying hi to them and seeing that they were doing well meant the world to them,” he says.
“This is the best job I’ve ever had,” he says. “The residents are very gracious. I’m told many times each day that they’re thankful that I’m here, that they appreciate what I do.”