Steve Persad, a biomedical and equipment technician III and team leader in Biomedical & Clinical Engineering in UAB Hospital, is task-oriented.
“I like to see what I’ve done at the end of every day,” Persad says.
That dedication — combined with some inspired problem-solving — enables Persad to help clinical areas around UAB stay up and running, and makes him a worthy selection as September’s Employee of the Month.
Persad is one of 20 biomed technicians throughout UAB Hospital providing care at all levels — operating rooms, anesthesia, hospital labs, intensive-care units, at Highlands, in The Kirklin Clinic and other places. Their work typically requires immediate response when the clinical staff reports a medical equipment problem.
While equipment has become more computer-based, and therefore more reliable, malfunctions and equipment failures still occur and adjustments are sometimes needed. The biomed group is an integral part of providing efficient patient care, and it’s a role the entire group relishes, Persad says.
“You want to be there, be prompt and capable of addressing issues in a short period of time,” Persad says.
When he’s not tweaking, repairing or replacing, Persad is continuously seeking areas of improvement throughout the hospital.
“He is constantly doing special projects, and he rarely takes a day off,” says Ryland Ausbrooks, a biomedical equipment tech II who is part of the team Persad leads. “He does all of these things because he wants UAB to provide the best possible care. He wants to help people, and he believes that the way you treat people is important.”
Nominate someone for Employee of the Month
And if there is a way to do something better, Persad is determined to find it.
“A deep concern for patient safety and a tenacious drive to keep investigating where something doesn’t seem right has resulted in numerous corrections from major manufacturers of medical equipment that even their design and quality processes missed,” says Tim Townley, technical operations manager for Biomedical & Clinical Engineering.
One example comes from the Continuing Care Nursery in the Women & Infants Center.
The nursery has 60 isolettes — or incubators — that require two oxygen cells each. The manufacturer recommends replacing these cells every six months. Persad’s team tested the cells and the incubators and determined that replacing them that frequently was unnecessary.
With approval from the Biomedical & Clinical Engineering management team the hospital changed its practice, and replacement times now average 18 months. That’s triple the expected lifespan for the cells and makes a big impact on the bottom line — especially when the 120 units needed for the isolettes cost $100.55 each.
“You spend your life in one of two places — home or work,” Persad says. “At home we all try to get value for our dollar. We need to do the same at work. If there are problems with a purchased medical device, the manufacturer should be expected to correct it.”
Brandi Duke, nurse manager in the Continuing Care Nursery, says Persad is always looking for ways to improve the quality and cost of patient care in her unit.
“He thinks outside of the box to find ways to accomplish these goals,” Duke says. “Steve is continually looking to save the hospital money by being committed to challenging himself and his team.
“Steve owns what he does, goes above and beyond what is expected of him, and is always a team leader in every respect,” Duke adds.
Ask Persad why he works to be a valuable asset to the nursing staff every day — as Duke and others say he does — and he deflects the praise to his coworkers. “It’s just the nature of what we do,” he says. Persad adds that the leadership of Sonja Judge, director of Biomedical & Clinical Engineering, and Townley are keys to the department’s success.
“We have a dedicated group of individuals,” Persad says. “This honor may have my name on it but it is made possible by each and every one of my coworkers in the biomed department. The award represents our success in providing the very best support to the patients and staff of UAB Hospital.”
Living the dream
Persad came to the United States from the Caribbean island of Trinidad. Persad’s father wanted his children to come to the United States to get their education — “my dad believed that an education in the U.S. is more valuable than anywhere else in the world,” he says — and he attended Gadsden State Community College. He eventually completed his studies in the UAB School of Health Professions.
All of Persad’s brothers and sisters were educated in the United States and have experienced their own successes — among them are a director of nursing, a computer programmer and a vice president of a petroleum company.
“Our stories are not much different than most who migrate to America,” Persad says. “By getting a good education and working hard, anyone can live the American dream.”
Persad met his wife, Vickie, at UAB while she was attending nursing classes. They have been married for 35 years and have three children and four grandchildren. Persad says Vickie, a retired ICU nurse, deserves the credit for his career choice. “She told me about the biomedical profession,” he says.
After graduating in 1991, Persad interviewed for a job at UAB, was hired, and worked under Alan Stanley and Jerry Lawrence, whom he considers his mentors. Twenty-one years later, Persad has no desire to slow down. “I don’t plan to retire,” he says. “I enjoy what I do, and I’m tremendously blessed in that respect. I read somewhere that the majority of people don’t like what they do. That’s not me. I can’t wait to get to work every day. As long as that passion and desire is there — and as long as UAB will have me — I will be here.”