Public safety officers support and stand with workers on the front lines

Public safety officers support and stand with workers on the front lines

By Jennifer Palma Sanchez

Public safety officers support and stand with workers on the front lines

By Jennifer Palma Sanchez
In the midst of a pandemic, the UHealth public safety team, often behind the scenes, ensures that preeminent patient care can be delivered safely around the clock.

Ramon “Ray” Valdes, director for UHealth’s public safety team, has seen a lot during the past 30-plus years as an employee. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, he has been trained to face emergencies in strategic ways; and rarely, if ever, does he shy away from a challenge. Today, even under new circumstances, he remains steadfast in prioritizing the safety and security of those around him. While COVID-19 has presented unique challenges for Valdes and his team, it has also deepened the team’s appreciation for their colleagues and the collective work being done throughout the University. 

“The support I have witnessed and experienced during these difficult days has been overwhelming,” said Valdes. “Our amazing public safety officers are truly the best group of people that I could ask to work with; I truly love our team and admire their dedication to our staff, patients, students, and visitors.”

Anthony Artrip, executive director for the department of public safety, echoed Valdes’ sentiments. “Our entire group of officers, drivers, customer service representatives, technicians, and emergency management staff, continue to exhibit a tireless work ethic every day—often concealing their fears to provide a consistent, confident example for all.”

While their focus often shifts many times throughout each day, Valdes and his team don’t hesitate to step in wherever and whenever they are needed—from checking credentials at checkpoints and entries to all facilities, to ensuring patients and visitors are following policies, to responding to emergency situations. 

Valdes shared one of the many examples of colleagues going above and beyond. “Since the onset of COVID-19, UHealth public safety officer Norma Campbell has worked the medical campus employee testing site day after day, rain or shine. The testing center isn’t part of Norma’s regular duties, but she continues to support the operation with a smile from ear to ear. Our University is so much greater with officers like Norma, who are doing their best, day in and day out.”

With increased protocols and safety measures to protect staff, patients, and visitors, public safety officers often work side by side with their UHealth colleagues and around the clock every step of the way. The extra precautions and heightened need for security create new public safety challenges. But for Valdes, stepping away seems to be the most difficult part of his current role. 

“Personally, the most difficult change has been trying to separate work and family-time. I am involved in so many aspects of our day-to-day operations, disconnecting has truly been a challenge when I go home. Weekends are truly just another day of the week, because I always want to be available to help, if needed,” shared Valdes.  

Although some days can be more challenging than others, Valdes continues to keep a positive outlook and expresses a deep appreciation for those serving the University community. “I honestly try not to get too emotional when I see my colleagues working hard every day on campus and at our UHealth satellites. No matter what they are dealing with, they always seem to carry a smile or words of affirmation. These people—my co-workers—are truly amazing,” he added. 

“What helps me get through each day and night is knowing that there are so many of us who put everything we have into making a positive difference in someone’s life,” Valdes said. “Even if that is putting a simple smile on their face; it costs nothing but can help and heal in so many ways.”  

As part of National Hospital Week, ’Canes around the globe are uniting, from a distance, to share our gratitude and pride for the unsung heroes who rise to the occasion every day. Learn how you can celebrate the University’s frontline heroes, including UHealth’s public safety officers. .