TUCSON - Many people around Tucson have put their lives on the line fighting COVID-19 and this month we are paying tribute to those heroes who kept our community safe.
TMC is where many of these heroes go to work every day and their construction staff kept other patients and doctors safe by retooling normal hospital rooms into negative pressure rooms.
Negative pressure rooms are a common method to fight infectious diseases and keep other patients safe. The air pressure in the room is lower than the air outside. This ensures that no dangerous particles leave the room and infect the rest of the hospital.
Richard Parker was in-charge of mapping out a plan to covert regular rooms into negative space rooms all over TMC's campus to fight the virus.
Parker said, "It actually forced us into an innovation type response where we had to extend the use and availability of what we had on hand."
Parker says they were able to stay ahead of the outbreak since they had to plan from another disease in the past. "We actually did pull out our Ebola plan and look at what we had designed for that response and we knew that it was going to be bigger than what we had to do with that time, but the concepts were the same."
Melissa Dominguez is the Facility projects leader, and it was up to her and her team to make sure enough rooms were functional for COVID-19 patients. "When we took windows out and actually covered the windows, we hooked up exhaust to it, added the negative air machine and used tubing for the exhaust"
At the peak of pandemic Dominguez and her team had 192 functional negative pressure rooms for the high risk patients.
At the beginning of the pandemic, it would take Dominguez and her team up to an hour just to covert one room. Now, they can convert or deconstruct a whole unit in just two hours.
Parker has praised the work of Dominguez and her team, "We definitely got a lot faster at being able to respond to requests and the supply chain had caught up, so we were able to get more what we needed."
Both Parker and Dominguez aren't celebrated like doctors and nurses at TMC, but without their planning and construction the hospital would not have been able to function through the pandemic.