All Hands on Brooms at Mainland Medical Center



Facing an environmental threat to their hospital, Mainland Medical Center employees leapt into action

It had been a long day at Mainland Medical Center. In Hurricane Harvey’s immediate wake, the last few days had been a frenzied blur as a lean team of doctors, nurses, and other personnel fought to maintain uninterrupted care for their patients during one of the most destructive weather events of the city’s history. Now it was Sunday, 2 a.m. to be exact, and as Tripp Montalbo, CEO, and Nathan Irwin, Associate Administrator, did their nightly walk through of the hospital, they expected the worst was behind them.

As the leaders approached the physical therapy department, however, they noticed a significant amount of water pooling at the entrance. On their first attempt to sweep the water away, the area quickly refilled. Looking out into the adjacent courtyard – usually a lush and refreshing getaway for staff and patients – they identified the cause: Throughout the day, the area had collected enough water for an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Fearing the pressure on the windows could cause them to burst, triggering a rush of water into the hospital, and potentially, patient rooms, the hospital’s staff leapt into action. Everyone who could safely do so – regardless of their “official” role – grabbed a broom and in unison worked to move the water away from the windows and to a safer place. A few enterprising employees even built a makeshift damn out of linen and pillows, redirecting the water to drain out from the loading dock.

Recounting the memorable night one year later, Nathan Irwin was filled with pride. “There was no hesitation, no delegation,” he said. “The only way to describe it is well-orchestrated chaos with everyone doing what they needed to at that moment to protect the hospital and its patients.” Through the power of unquestioning teamwork and a singular goal, the employees of Mainland Medical Center did just that.