Munson’s In-House Wood Shop Keeps Hospital Safe and Sound

In addition to its 442 beds, hundreds of physicians, and departments for everything from neonatal intensive care to cardiology, Munson Medical Center (MMC) also boasts something you might not know about: its own in-house wood shop.

Tucked away off the beaten path on the ground floor of MMC, the wood shop and its three carpenters may not be seen by most patients or hospital visitors. Still, their contributions are surely felt. When a remodel demands new cabinetry or casework, Munson calls the wood shop. When new TVs or monitors need to be mounted on the walls throughout the hospital, Munson calls the wood shop. When work orders come up for broken crash rails or defective hinges, Munson calls the wood shop.

For more than 30 years, MMC and Munson Healthcare as a whole have relied on the carpenters in the wood shop to handle or assist with maintenance work, renovations, improvements, and even facility decorations. When Senior Carpenter Glen Gauld applied for a job with the department in June of 1997, he was intrigued about working for Munson, but had no idea how the hospital could possibly have enough work to keep an on-site, full-time carpentry team busy.

“When I first heard about the wood shop, I wondered, ‘How in the world do they keep guys busy in there?’” Gauld said. “But I very quickly realized how large of an area the shop served for Munson.”

Virtually any carpentry-related project within the entire Munson Healthcare network is fair game for the wood shop. Over the years, Gauld said he’s handled projects at MMC, the Munson Community Health Center on Munson Avenue, Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital in Frankfort, and various clinics or other affiliated healthcare centers in Elk Rapids, Charlevoix, Kingsley, and beyond. He and his team go where they are called.

Sometimes, the call of duty demands innovative work to serve the unique needs of patients. Once, the wood shop built a portable kitchen island to be used for occupational therapy purposes. In another instance, Gauld got called in to reinforce a bed, intended for a patient who was retaining a large amount of water weight. Just recently, Munson called upon the wood shop to help relocate patients after a sprinkler main burst at one of its buildings.

Most of the time, the wood shop is charged with keeping Munson’s facilities beautiful and safe. Due to the size and reach of the Munson Healthcare network, Gauld says there is always something to update or remodel. Sometimes, those projects are small and standalone. Other times, they are necessary to prepare Munson facilities for more extensive renovations or expansions.

Regardless of the size of the project, Gauld said his goal is always to support Munson’s efforts to provide a quality patient experience. That means working quickly – and often after-hours – to ensure that no part of patient care is interrupted. At the Munson Health Community Center, for instance, the wood shop recently spearheaded a pharmacy remodel where the pharmacy stayed up and running for the duration of the project.

The wood shop also has what Gauld calls a “SWAT room enhancement” team at MMC. The program, a partnership with the maintenance department, executes refurbishments of patient rooms in the hospital with 24-hour turnaround times. Every day, Munson sets aside a few rooms to stay vacant for 24 hours. In that time period, the wood shop goes in to repaint walls, repair broken hinges, check for damaged laminate on cabinets, and more. The maintenance crew checks faucets, filters, and other fixtures to make sure everything is working properly. By the next day, the rooms look fresh and new – and are ready for patients.

“Basically, we’re just making sure that everything is intact the way it’s supposed to be,” Gauld said. “It’s  preventative maintenance, so in the long run, it’s decreasing the number of work orders we have. But it’s also something that everyone takes pride in, because it enhances the whole facility. It makes it so we can serve our patients better.”