Profile of the Month
Assistant Coordinating Manager, Environmental Services
Metropolitan Hospital Center
||Angel Rojas (second from right) with friends and colleagues from hospital police and environmental staff (l,r): Detective Victor Diaz, Miguel Cruz, Nelson Rivera, Robertin Llano.
Never a Typical Day on the Job
I supervise a team of five and we are responsible for maintaining the grounds of the hospital. We pick up debris and empty out garbage cans. People don’t always throw out trash where it’s supposed to go. We also plow, remove snow, and ice. When it rains, it’s a calamity, broken umbrellas everywhere. In the summer, the amount of garbage doubles since there is so much foot traffic.
Inspired by Service
I start every day with a prayer: God, let me be of service to anyone who needs me. I consider what we do to be part of emergency care. If patients and visitors can’t get in because there is debris all over the grounds, it can be dangerous.
Pride For His “Second Home”
Excuse me if this sounds arrogant, but what we do in grounds maintenance is just as important as what the medical staff does inside the hospital. This is the hospital’s first point of reference for visitors, patients and staff. Would you take your mom into a hospital if it’s dirty and there is garbage all over its grounds? I treat this place like it’s my second home and I give it the respect it deserves.
Sometimes Garbage is Not Really Garbage
Years ago, I found a pocket book near a garbage can. Inside, there was a check for $17,000, $300 in cash and a wallet filled with credit cards. The ID card was of one of our nurses. I asked a supervisor to page her and when she came, I held out the bag and asked if it was hers. She started to cry. She had taken a loan and the money was to help her sick father in the Philippines. She wanted to give me a reward, but I refused. Until this day, when she sees me, she gives me a hug, tears up, and calls me her angel.
Most Memorable Patient Moment
One of my guys found a bag filled with medicine. We couldn’t connect with the patient by phone, so I offered to take the medicines to the patient’s home after my shift ended. I went with my wife, Doris, who works here too. The patient was not there. Her brother told us that she was in the streets, retracing her steps going crazy trying to find the medicines. He was so thankful. I refused to give our names and just said we were employees from Metropolitan. I wanted him to know that there are good people working at the hospital. A few days later, I received a beautiful letter from one of the supervisors here that made me cry.
How He Got the Gentle Giant Nickname
I didn’t know that that was my nickname! I am a big brown guy and at 6’ 4”, 319 pounds, I realize that I can be intimidating and I am conscious of that so I am extra communicative, especially in situations with strangers. With my size, they think I can throw them out with a punch or worse. That’s why I took my wife to that patient’s house when I dropped off the medications. I didn’t want to scare them. People can’t see your heart just by looking at your appearance.
Proudest Moment on the Job
Hurricane Sandy was the most emotional, exciting, wildest, and scariest. I was born in the Dominican Republic and lived my share of hurricanes, but Sandy was something extra. All my guys and I spent the night here to prepare the hospital. Our goal was to keep the water from flooding the hospital. We worked through the night to sandbag the place. And when the sandbags finished, we found wood, even tin cans. We even used a plow, anything to protect the place. I almost got hit by a tree that fell. Those winds were howling and First Avenue was like a river! But I was proud that we managed to send the water to 2nd Ave. It could have flooded us to the third floor.
Education and Training
I have two years of credits toward a chemical engineering degree from Pedro Enrique Ureña University in Santo Domingo. I dropped out without finishing, foolish young man that I was.
For Good Will and Blessings
What I do is not for accolades. I have two daughters, a wife, family, and friends and with my deeds I know I bless them as well. I’ve been married for 28 years. My oldest daughter is finishing law at St. John’s University. The other is in her last year at The College of St. Rose in Albany and is studying medicine. My favorite thing to do is to watch films with them and eat popcorn.