Pajaron ‘will do whatever it takes’ to keep UAB at its best

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frank streamA few years back, an older woman, whose husband was a patient at UAB Hospital, couldn’t find her car in the parking deck. Hospital maintenance field supervisor Frank Pajaron, who came upon the scene accidentally, joined UAB Police in the search, walking the parking deck using her car’s remote key to locate the vehicle by sound.

When Pajaron discovered it, he realized she had a flat tire, and changed it for her. But he didn’t stop at that.

“We actually followed her home to Alabaster to make sure she got home alright,” he said.

No part of Pajaron’s official role at UAB includes changing flat tires or escorting a patient’s family member on an hour-long round trip home. While on the clock as a field supervisor, he oversees compliance of the maintenance department, kitchen maintenance throughout UAB Hospital and the upkeep of mechanical rooms. He’s also spearheaded sustainable efforts in the hospital, specifically the switch to LED lighting, which he said has saved the hospital a considerable amount.

“It is almost an expectation with co-workers that, if there is a void to be filled, Frank will step in and fill it.”

Pajaron said he often works late at night, early in the morning and on weekends. When roads are icy, he often stays at work, ensuring his team has the supplies to continue their jobs. Recently, he spent a late night working in the hospital after construction due to clogged drain lines. He left at midnight and came back to work at 5 a.m.

“He’s typically the first to volunteer for any on-call weekends that may have come open for various reasons,” said Doug Williams, another hospital maintenance field supervisor. “He is so quick to do this that it is almost an expectation with co-workers that, if there is a void to be filled, Frank will step in and fill it.”

During 14 years of long hours and late nights at UAB, a career which he began as a general mechanic before becoming an HVAC PM mechanic and eventually field supervisor, Pajaron has accrued a considerable amount of knowledge about the buildings he maintains.

“My personal motivation is the people in the hospital beds. I’m not going to shortchange them in anything I can do. Every one of them is my family member, or my mother and father.”

“When you ask him a question about a building, he can give you the history of the finite details of construction, age of the equipment and past issues with the facility,” said Ken Swanson, facility compliance director. “That tells me he takes his job seriously and knows it is in his hands to get problems fixed.”

According to one of Pajaron’s colleagues, that type of dedication isn’t unusual for the supervisor, but rather the norm.

“About a year ago, there was a problem that resulted in brown water in all the pipes of the North Pavilion,” which would have immediately stopped security and eventually operating rooms operations, said Robert Reed, senior director of perioperative services. “Frank was the lead supervisor for the maintenance department that night. He stayed on the job for more than 24 hours flushing and re-flushing every plumbing fixture in the building.”

Reed said that Pajaron’s leadership motivated the team to work the long hours to resolve the issue, holding both himself and his colleagues to his personal level of high expectations — with significant results.

“He stayed on the job for more than 24 hours flushing and re-flushing every plumbing fixture in the building.”

“The next day, we were able to safely operate on approximately 100 patients due to Frank and his team,” Reed said.

Pajaron still gets his hands dirty from time to time, working on exhaust fans or changing motors, but channels his expertise a different way now, often staying after-hours to mentor and tutor newer mechanics in a private setting.

“If someone has a learning curve, I’ll show them the right way to do something, but in a private setting so they’re not embarrassed,” he said. “I tell them, ‘There’s no such thing as a stupid question’ — you’ve just not been exposed to that before. I can do that for them in a safe manner and teach them the right way of doing it.”

Each month, UAB recognizes an outstanding employee for their dedication, hard work and contributions to the university’s success. If you know of a great employee, you can learn how to nominate them for this recognition at uab.edu/humanresources.

Pajaron’s desire to creative positive change extends not just to his colleagues, but to the patients and their loved ones.

“He will do whatever it takes to make UAB the best environment-of-care facility for the patients and families during their time here,” echoed Beth Lett, hospital maintenance engineering manager.

That attitude stems from personal experience, Pajaron said. Before their deaths, both of his parents were ill and spent time in Birmingham hospitals, which gave their son a unique perspective on everything involved in making sure that patients have access to quality care, which begins by caring for the buildings themselves.

“My personal motivation is the people in the hospital beds,” he said. “I’m not going to shortchange them in anything I can do. Every one of them is my family member or my mother and father.”

 

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