Miami, Florida is no stranger to hurricanes. But in early 2020, there was a different type of hurricane that had residents in South Florida on high alert. The arrival of the Coronavirus or COVID-19 virus crashed down on numerous hospitals and medical facilities in the region, including the University of Miami Hospital and the surrounding medical campus.
While thyssenkrupp Elevator technicians Mike Woodrome and Orlando Hernandez may not have realized it at the time, their expertise was needed now, more than ever.
When the COVID-19 virus came to Miami and, specifically, University of Miami Hospital, Woodrome and Hernandez knew they needed to step up for their customer.
“Now, more than ever, they really don’t need any problems with those elevators, especially the service cars they are using to bring COVID-19 patients up and down,” Hernandez says. “If one shuts down, they are hurting. There can be a considerable wait during the rush – we have to keep them up and running.”
The duo is responsible for supporting the hospital as well as the other 20 buildings and approximately 100 elevators throughout the medical campus.
But before Woodrome and Hernandez could focus on keeping the University of Miami Hospital safe, they needed to ensure their own safety first. Working with their thyssenkrupp Elevator management, Woodrome and Hernandez were provided with additional safety equipment to protect them against the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“Safety is nothing new; it’s what we deal with every day. This current situation adds a few extra steps, but we’re used to working safe,” says Hernandez. “It’s about using your common sense. I put my safety glasses on as soon as I get out of my truck so I can’t rub my eyes. I wipe everything down, and my clothes stay in the garage.”
Woodrome echoes his service partner’s sentiments.
“While it is a little intimidating now, you just have to be cautious, wear the appropriate personal protective equipment and get your work done,” he shares. “I feel like I have a responsibility, an ownership, to provide service for the hospital during this challenging time.”
Joel Perez, Branch Service Operations Manager for thyssenkrupp Elevator’s Miami branch, witnessed their dedication and commitment firsthand when the COVID-19 virus expanded its presence across the region.
“Both Orlando and Mike took precautions and worked without any complaints or hesitations in order to serve the hospital in this dire time,” he notes. “To date they still approach the situation with the utmost professionalism and the hospital has told us how much they appreciate their services.”
A STRONG PARTNERSHIP
While Woodrome and Hernandez had been partners servicing the elevators at the University of Miami Hospital and full medical campus for more than a year, they were far from novices. Both technicians have now worked in the industry for at least 20 years, with 26-year industry veteran Hernandez joining thyssenkrupp Elevator two years ago and Woodrome spending all 20 years of his career with the urban mobility leader.
“I’ve spent nearly half my life at thyssenkrupp Elevator and every one of those days, I’ve been proud to put on my uniform, wear that logo and go to work,” says Woodrome, who moved from Fort Walton to Miami when he was four.
Hernandez, a lifetime Miami resident, took a different route to thyssenkrupp Elevator. After working in the industry for 24 years, he left a competitor to join thyssenkrupp, a decision he is eternally grateful he made.
“The difference between (my previous company) and thyssenkrupp is night and day,” Hernandez admits. “It feels more like a family here, there’s more personal attention and it’s a much friendlier atmosphere.”
Both technicians were excited to team up at the University of Miami medical campus as both grew up watching the Hurricanes football team – Woodrome is even a season ticketholder.
Their hard work and dedication to their job has earned them praise from the customer, something that is especially meaningful for the duo who feel a special connection to the customer and community.
“I have a good relationship with the customer and the people in charge. I enjoy taking care of the elevators there and I’m proud of the work I do there,” shares Woodrome. “It feels like my home away from home. I’ve met a lot of people there, including medical staff and even running into some old friends from high school who are employed there.”
Outside of their professional roles, Woodrome and Hernandez are both committed fathers to their respective children. Woodrome has two daughters and one son between the ages of 16 and 27 and is the proud grandfather to two grandchildren. And when college football returns, Woodrome will be in the stands at Hard Rock Stadium rooting for the Hurricanes football team.
Meanwhile, outside of spending time with his 10-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter, Hernandez loves to spend time on his Harley and fixing up motorcycles. He also enjoys boating and fishing and has participated in the annual fishing tournament the local thyssenkrupp Elevator office has held the last three years.
Be it personally or professionally, Woodrome and Hernandez demonstrate passion and responsibility in all facets of their lives and are committed to keeping their customer up and running during this very unpredictable hurricane season.