The Stairway to PACU

Back around 2002 we were just beginning to regularly setup surgery centers with all of their equipment needs. Due to my fear of flying at the time (which has since been suppressed), we were literally driving all of the equipment to the customers for complete setup and delivery. I was driving with a former employee, Keith, who was a real trooper on all of these trips. He never complained, he just did his job and understood and accepted the long hours and intense driving we did to fulfill our obligation to our customers.

We setup a surgery center in Northern New Jersey in 2002. It was in February and it was freezing with alternating time of sleet and snow. We pulled up in the parking lot of the surgery center like a normal delivery, but little did we know this would be different. We went into the building and found that the ASC was actually on the 2nd floor. The elevator was small; approx 5 or 6 feet square, but certainly they had a freight elevator of some kind in the building. The Doctor that owned the ASC was kind and cordial and after the some idol introductory talk, we began the trek back downstairs.

We first brought up his new anesthesia machines and monitoring. Other items followed, including his defibrillator and mayo stands. We didn’t want to waste time finding the freight elevator at this time, because all of these items were fitting into the main patron elevator with no problem. Finally, we were left with just the 4 stretchers, fully refurbished Hill-Rom GPS stretchers. Very heavy Hill-Rom GPS stretchers. We rolled them up to the front door and Keith went upstairs to find out from the Doctor where the freight elevator was. Keith returned moments later with a frightened and confused look, stating that this was THE elevator. Only a stairwell in the rear of the building would be an option to consider besides the elevator. This, of course, was not the answer we wanted to hear. We probably should have been informed of this prior to the delivery so we could have either brought additional rigging equipment or hired a professional mover. After all, we are medical equipment sales, not XYZ movers.

After considering our options, we found that there really was only but one. The stairwell would be the way we would go. We opened the door to the stairway and there were no landings, just one straight, steep shot to the second floor. Keith and I readied ourselves like a heavy weight boxer before a bout, getting our adrenaline up to make the long haul up the stairs, lifting the stretcher up while climbing. One slip and we could have all came down together – it was a quite dangerous task.

We decided to take turns walking backwards up the stairs – Keith would be first. We grunted and picked up the 300 lbs stretchers and started up. After what seemed like an hour, we finally reached the top. We just sat down besides the stretcher, gave a quick High-5 and rolled the stretcher into the PACU. The stretchers progressively seemed heavier and heavier as we carried them up the stairs, one by one. It literally took us a couple of hours to get them all upstairs, as our breaks in-between were getting longer and longer as we built up the stamina and strength (physically and mentally) to take on another stretcher.

What started as a smooth delivery turned into something so much more. It taught us to ask some very specific questions before delivery. It also taught us that, if determined, there was no obstacle that we couldn’t overcome. It’s all about your attitude. We didn’t have a “Can we do this?” attitude, we had a “How can we do this?” attitude. And we did.

Thanks for reading,

-Venture Medical

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