Surgeons Count on JPS Mechanic to Set Them Up for Success

June 21st, 2018

Is that a surgeon changing a light bulb?

No, actually. That’s JPS Health Network maintenance mechanic Kris Rizzo. It’s his job to make sure everything either works or gets fixed in surgery, Perioperative Services and Sterile Processing so doctors and nurses can do their life-saving work. He said he sometimes is confused for a surgeon because, due to the need to keep the sensitive areas where he works perfectly clean, he wears scrubs instead of the uniforms his colleagues wear in other parts of the health network.

JPS mechanic Kris Rizzo

JPS mechanic Kris Rizzo

Typically, JPS Plant Operations mechanics roam throughout the main campus, tackling jobs wherever something needs to be fixed. Rizzo is the only day shift mechanic assigned exclusively to the surgical suite at JPS -- although he can call his colleagues in for assistance whenever additional help is needed.

“A lot of what I do is routine,” said Rizzo. “I try to do a lot of preventative maintenance and checking on things. The key is to stay on top of things so they don’t fail when they’re needed most. But sometimes, no matter how much you plan, things can get hectic, so you have to be ready for anything.”

One of Rizzo’s toughest assignments came when a ceiling leak started in the middle of an operation. He had to scrub up, come into the operating room -- while the surgeon continued to work on a patient -- to contain the leak and then repair the problem when the operation was done. He said he’s also had the humbling experience of having to fix something in an operating room while open-heart surgery was taking place just steps away.

“It’s amazing to think that something so extraordinary is taking place so near where you’re working,” Rizzo said. “But I don’t really have time to stop to think about that because I have to focus on what I’m doing.”

More typical tasks for Rizzo include repairing doors and making sure the air conditioning system, which sometimes has to cool the operating room to 55 degrees, is working perfectly.

Rizzo said automatic doors are constantly opened and closed in the high-traffic area where he works, causing wear and tear. Sometimes door frames get banged by the heavy beds used to transport patients in and out of the unit which causes them to get out of adjustment. The doors in the area have to be working properly to maintain positive air pressure in the surgery ward, something that is vital to keeping contaminants out of the operating rooms.

Deb Saunders, Executive Director of Perioperative Services, said Rizzo doesn’t just dress like a part of the unit where he works. He’s a full-fledged member, as far as she and her team members are concerned.

“He’s amazing. I wish I could clone him by three,” Saunders said of Rizzo. “He’s very pro-active. If he sees something, he gets on it right away. A lot of times he takes care of things before anyone else ever realizes there was something wrong. To us, he’s just a part of the team.”

Prior to coming to JPS, Rizzo worked for many years framing new houses and rehabilitating older ones. He learned about electrical work, plumbing and carpentry during those times. While he liked his previous jobs, he believes his current role is perfect for him.

“It’s great working here,” Rizzo said of JPS. “It’s nice to be a little part of some pretty amazing things.”



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