emergency preparedness

A day in the life of: CHOC’s director of safety, security and emergency management

As CHOC’s director of safety, security and emergency management, Calvin Fakkema is also the CHOC’s safety officer. His responsibilities include leadership over CHOC’s safety program, security department, parking and valet departments, workplace violence program, emergency management program, and business continuity program.

CHOC’s director of safety, security and emergency management
Calvin Fakkema, CHOC’s director of safety, security and emergency management

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Calvin has also served as a Co-Incident Commander — alongside CHOC’s chief nursing officer — in CHOC’s COVID-19 Command Center. Activated in March 2020, the command center has been tasked with overseeing planning, response, mitigation and business continuity amid the pandemic. Through its virtual database that tracks various activities, the command center has logged more than 5,000 entries of decisions, actions, documents, algorithms and preparedness efforts throughout the health system thus far in the pandemic.

Follow along for a day in the life of Calvin, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

2 a.m. — My cellphone rings, and I open one eye trying to see who from the hospital may be calling. It is one of my security staff members, calling to notify me of something going on and seek direction. I calmly give him directions, then hang up and call a few other hospital staff for updates. Everyone involved follows policy and procedure, and I get a call back a few minutes later letting me know that all is well. No matter the day or time, the safety of our patients, families, clinicians and staff is always on my mind.

6 a.m. — My daughter shows up next to my bed to warmly greet me with a, “Good morning, Daddy.” I slowly open my eyes and greet her with a hug and a “Good morning,” back. As I get myself ready for the day, I make sure both kids are all settled in with breakfast. I quickly glance at my schedule for the day and check emails and text messages for anything that needs an urgent response. I grab my coffee as I head out the door and kiss my beautiful wife goodbye with a whisper to have a great day.

Calvin and family
My family and me.

7 a.m. — I arrive at work and greet my valet staff on the front driveway and see how they are doing and how operations are running this morning. Our valet staff members are often the first person that patients and families see when they come to our main hospital campus, and it’s important to me that they feel appreciated for all they do, and that they strive to make a positive first impression. I then make my way down to my office to get situated for the day. I take another look at my emails and listen to any voicemails that have come through overnight. I take my last sip of my coffee as I continue to follow up with team members who have questions or need support.

7:30 a.m. — First touch base of the day with Harving Parra, CHOC’s safety and workplace violence program manager. Harving’s job is to manage the physical safety aspects of our hospitals as well as to ensure that our staff have a safe work environment. Harving then heads off to the daily safety briefing where representatives from all areas of the hospital campus brief one another on updates from the past 24 hours and any anticipation of potential safety issues to arise in the coming 24 hours. Harving will keep me in the loop with anything discussed in this safety huddle. He is also part of our command center team, so he has been a huge support throughout the pandemic.

8 a.m. — I prepare briefing notes ahead of my daily meeting with the other members of CHOC’s COVID-19 Command Center team. I want to be sure to keep them in the loop on my team’s work as part of CHOC’s overall ongoing response to COVID. I do this with Chris Riccardi, CHOC’s business continuity manager. Chris has been actively involved in our COVID response, which like a lot of our command center team, has involved a lot of work on top of our typical responsibilities.

8:30 a.m. — Every morning at this time, I meet with our command center team, comprised of physicians, infection prevention specialists, nurse managers, CHOC’s chief nursing officer, CHOC’s chief government relations officer, and representatives from purchasing, business continuity and emergency management. We go through COVID-19 updates and plans. We review yesterday’s case numbers; the status of any plans for our hospitals, clinics and Outdoor Evaluation Centers; get updates from the infection prevention team; discuss logistics including our levels of personal protective equipment (PPE); hear from our government relations team on pending legislation or support; discuss local updates within the county and region; go over current support for our patients, staff and community; touch base on telehealth operations and making these visits more accessible to families, and any other emergency management matters at hand.

9:30 a.m. — It’s time for a meeting with our logistics chief and infection prevention leaders to review our current supply of PPE. While CHOC is not exempt from the global shortage of PPE prompted by the COVID-19 crisis, we are aggressively managing our supply chain; working with existing and new manufacturers and vendors to augment our supply; and following expert guidelines for equipment use. We are confident that we have ample PPE to protect our physicians and staff and provide the highest quality and safest care to our patients. We have been grateful for the support of our community and their generous PPE donations as well.

10:30 a.m. — I head back to my office for an outfit change, of all things. I don my Grinch costume and join a safe holiday celebration called Deck the Halls planned by the CHOC Foundation, in an effort to spread joy to our patients and staff. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, many typical holiday celebrations at the hospital were canceled or reimagined. We wanted to keep the magic of the holiday season alive and well for our patients and families, so the event included delivering goody bags to patient rooms, and
broadcasting a virtual celebration from Seacrest Studios and livestreaming all the festive décor throughout the hospital.

During typical years, I participate in holiday celebration planning efforts to ensure that all decorations are appropriate and safe for the hospital environment. Each year this always brings the tough part of my job as we have a standard of care and safety we need to ensure, which means someone must be the “Grinch” and say no to certain ideas or décor. To bring a spark of joy during a tough couple of months, I thought it was only appropriate to dress up as the Grinch and participate in some fun activities in our Seacrest Studios.

The Grinch costume
Donning my Grinch costume before the virtual holiday celebration.

Noon — Back to the office to change back into work mode after a fun adventure as the Grinch. Clean up, check my emails and text messages and reply to anything urgent, and quickly eat some lunch.

12:30 p.m. — I have a quick update call with the Orange Police Department’s Chief of Police to touch base on how things in the community are going and to see how CHOC is holding up through the pandemic. We have built a relationship with our local law enforcement officers and fire department, as we all play a part in keeping our community safe and healthy. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we would bring police vehicles and fire trucks to the front driveway of our hospital in Orange for patients and their siblings to explore. It was always so rewarding to see the smiles it would bring to the children’s faces, and I know the law enforcement officers and firefighters enjoyed it as well. I’m looking forward to organizing more of those visits in the future, after the pandemic is over and it is safe to do so.

1 p.m. — I hop on another COVID-related phone call, this one with other hospitals in the county and Orange County Emergency Medical Services. We receive county and local updates, followed by a state update. Each hospital representative also shares a status update. As part of the Healthcare Coalition, it is important to always continue open communications on what is going on around the county, assist those in need, and keep our continued preparedness levels high. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we met monthly in person. It gave us the opportunity to meet and see one other, catch up, and continue working through planning efforts and preparing for potential scenarios. Now that we are in the middle of a pandemic, the objectives of these calls are tailored to COVID, and it has been very beneficial for everyone to understand what is happening locally and at the state level.

2 p.m. — Time to review the daily documentation sent to the state government and federal government. Our command center utilizes a system to track data every day from key areas within our health system to submit to the state and federal COVID-19 response dashboards. There are many people involved in this effort, in order to ensure the data is captured, accurate and safe-guarded. During the week, Leeza Guardado, CHOC’s business continuity coordinator, holds down the fort for our command center documentation. On weekends, managers from my team and I rotate responsibilities for documentation and submission, to ensure that all weekend data is covered. This documentation covers approximately 80 questions we need to answer daily. We review any outstanding items that may need to be updated for the next morning, which leads into many emails sent out and reviewed for follow-up.

3 p.m. — I participate in a few internal virtual meetings regarding updates on projects and programs, while going through the command center log on the side for any new updates.

Calvin training
Pre-COVID, at a professional development conference with other emergency preparedness professionals.

4 p.m. — Before I head home for the day, I carve out some time to work on upcoming webinars, presentations and other projects in the works. Throughout COVID-19, my team and I have developed a number of presentations on not only lessons learned during COVID-19 in terms of proper emergency management and business continuity while dealing with the pandemic, but also best practices on other emergencies, mass casualty response, emerging infectious diseases, and security-related presentations and podcasts. CHOC is fortunate to have experts in the field of emergency management, safety and security to provide these types of education opportunities to the community, colleges, government officials and other healthcare personnel and executives.

5 p.m. — Time to wrap up my day in the office with a few last-minute emails and voicemails. As I get home, my kids are waiting patiently, looking out the window, waiting for me. That is the part of the day that I look forward to the most, getting my daily hugs and updates on what they were up to all day. We wind down by eating dinner together, doing homework, playing board games, building Legos, and spending quality family time together.

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