Praised for keeping the power on around the clock at Southampton Hospital during Superstorm Sandy—as well as for doing the often overlooked, but vital tasks like digging out cars during the recent blizzard—the hospital’s facilities and engineering department accepted a prestigious state award on Friday.
David Lopez, the director of facilities and engineering, and his blue-shirted team of 13, were recognized with the New York State Liberty Award by State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle during a surprise morning ceremony at the hospital’s Parrish Memorial Hall.
The award is one of the highest civilian honors a New York State resident can receive and is presented to individuals who have “merited special commendation for exception, heroic or humanitarian acts and achievements on behalf of their fellow New Yorkers.”
The honorees included Mr. Lopez and his staff: Bill Rand, Dana Davis, Mike Catalano, Jordan Gomez, Rich Donohue, Tom Colitti, Tom Lawlor, Gary Scherpich, Tom Geotz, Mike White, Augi Heithaus, Tammy Palazzolo and Jim White.
The team is credited for spending two full days on the hospital campus with little to no sleep in their effort to provide uninterrupted services to keep the hospital humming. Specifically, they prevented flooding at pumping stations, provided emergency power via in-house generators and a temporary portable generator, provided temporary power where needed and took care of infrastructure issues related to the mechanical medical gas, and medical vacuum systems and wastewater treatment plant.
“Hospitals are all about the generators and keeping things going,” commented Mr. LaValle.
He credited the award recipients with demonstrating a “rare and inspiring dedication” for the benefit of others and noted how the resolution honoring them passed unanimously in the State Senate. “You are all a part of New York State history.”
“In the last two years, we had Hurricane Irene, we had a fire, we had Superstorm Sandy, we had blizzards. I think we’re going to have locusts next,” Southampton Hospital President and CEO Bob Chaloner quipped, adding that the honorees have kept the hospital going throughout.
Mr. Lopez, donning his new medal, shared a few words. “You’re only as good as the guys that you work with, and they do a great job.”