Timothy Gross – Dayton Children’s
He and his wife have six children between the ages of 3 and 9, and all have been seen by Dayton Children’s medical staff. One of those kids, Zoe, was prematurely born, weighing just 4 pounds and with interrupted breathing. Thanks to her extended stay in the neonatal intensive care unit, she not only survived but now thrives as a healthy 8-year-old.
While Dayton Children’s was a lifesaver for little Zoe, it was a life-changer for her dad.
“At the time I was managing health care for adults and realized I’d rather work here,” Gross tells Blueprint in April. “That’s how I got my foot in the door.”
He’s done much to prove he belongs, having logged more than five years on the facilities team, the last four as director of services and life safety officer. He’s had a hand in overseeing upgrades and keeping the hospital and its satellites functioning through various emergencies.
“Whatever’s thrown at my guys, they handle it in minutes,” Gross says, recalling how when a 2018 tornado disabled power lines and water pressure, the hospital kept functioning without patients or their families aware of what was happening behind the scenes. “‘Above and beyond’ is our slogan.”
Going above and beyond
The stormfront generally quiet since then, it’s been business as usual for Gross and his team, and that means either overseeing or collaborating on upgrades and new projects.
While the bigger cities of Cleveland and Cincinnati have their own large children’s hospitals, the Dayton facility fills a critical need between the two metropolises. Healthcare needs ever evolving and Dayton Children’s led by forward-looking President and CEO Deborah Feldman, Gross’ to-do list is lengthy.
A $100 million three-story behavioral health building is in the design phase and, upon its expected 2025 completion, is sure to offer more comprehensive services than the current 26-bed unit on a single floor. According to Gross, that unit often overflows and saw increased demand during the height of COVID-19. The new unit will have at least twice as many beds, bring in- and outpatient services under one roof, include outdoor space for recovering patients, and be accessible to the emergency department.
Gross’ responsibilities divided between facilities and safety, he’s helping implement infrastructure that lessens the means for patients to harm themselves. Dayton Children’s having its own construction department, its leader and Gross collaborate in safety details that include special door locks, blunted rather than sharp fixtures and apparatus for preventing ligation. It’s a challenging time for young people, he says, noting how the combination of pandemic, social media bullying and growing-up pressure contributes to a national mental health crisis.
Meanwhile a five-story specialty care ambulatory building just opened last month. This $78 million, 152,000-square-foot project includes five floors for outpatient clinic space and a sixth-floor penthouse space. This, Gross explains, will go a long way toward modernizing Dayton’s Children with imaging and pharmacy services near clinics, and integrated orthopedic and sports medicine services.
Among other duties, Gross and his team are charged with ensuring the mechanical equipment—air handlers, boilers, controls, ice machines and what-not—hums efficiently and reliably. It’s all part of him helping to fulfill Feldman’s agenda of the past 11 years.
“This used to be a small hospital before Debbie joined,” Gross says. “Growth wasn’t a priority, but she was committed to us becoming a major player. We’ve grown rapidly.”
Learned from others
At 38, Gross is still a young man, and he credits some veterans for easing his role. There’s Dan Faulkner and Rex Campbell, who bring a combined half-century’s expertise to Dayton Children’s.
According to Gross, Faulkner handles the day-to-day emergencies and ensures the hospital’s aesthetics. While other children’s hospitals might emphasize a Disney theme, Dayton having been home to the Wright Brothers, there’s much aviation art in the design and on the walls.
Campbell, the building services supervisor, oversees advanced technicians and life-safety functions. The two men have been in the trenches in many regulatory surveys. Then there is Rob McCormick, the building services manager who joined Dayton Children’s eight years ago after working as an outside contractor on the nine-story patient tower. His 30 years of experience and innate leadership abilities make him a great fit.
“I love that I get to work with a team of people I respect and genuinely care about,” Gross says.
It did take Gross some years before finding his calling. As an undergrad at Sinclair Community College and Hocking College, he studied visual communications and business before becoming an agent in 2010 at the Dayton firm of Irongate Inc. Realtors.
He showed initiative there, founding Yepsold.com, a web-based marketing platform that featured Irongate listings on more than 150 search engines and landed him an appearance on Barbara Corcoran’s “The Today Show” segment. In 2013, a man named Steve Turner asked Gross to help him market his Dayton firm, Turner Property Services Group Inc.
The firm soon in flux, Gross was asked to manage its healthcare properties. As the grandson of a construction boss, Gross had basic knowledge, but it took the mentoring of a since-retired Turner vice president, Howard Sweet, to familiarize him with chillers and other complex machinery. He also credits Sweet with instilling in him the skills and work ethic necessary for any healthcare facilities role.
Gross might still be tending to Turner property had it not been for Zoe’s birth in 2014. Children’s needs—his and everybody else’s—hit closer to home. In April 2018, he became Dayton Children’s life safety officer and safety manager and in August 2019 was promoted to his present role. He’s also enhanced his skills with degrees in business and healthcare administration from Colorado Technical University.
And he knows something about safety, be it personal or mechanical. A husky 205-pounder, Gross practices mixed martial arts and is close to receiving his purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu —the third of five belts. Last August, he grappled with another blue-belted brute, Brandon Padilla, in Kumite IV, a tournament in Covington, Kentucky, watched by 7,000 on pay-per-view. While Padilla won, Gross won’t stay down.
“I continue to train and will be back in the fray,” he says.
View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. V 2023 Edition here.
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