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Grounds crew keeps VA campus looking good

Everyone knows the Salisbury VA Medical Center is full of various specialists who provide health care to patients on a daily basis, but there’s one team that also provides health care and does intricate work that may go overlooked at times — the Salisbury VAMC grounds crew.
This team of nine staff members is responsible for maintaining all of the trees, plants, grass and landscaping across the 100-acre campus — allowing visitors to the medical center to be greeted by a warm, yard-like setting, compared to a cold, clinical feel.
One of those who works on the grounds crew is Jimmy Cureton, who’s been a gardener for the medical center for 10 years. Cureton, a Navy veteran, said he loves what he does because he is helping mold the first impression a visitor gets when they visit the hospital.
“I love my work. Everybody wasn’t born to do this kind of work, but it’s something I really enjoy,” he said. “I like the moment after you’re done, when you can look back at the final product and say, ‘I was a part of designing that.’ ”
Alvin Harvell, facilities operations specialist, said the grounds crew does more than trim bushes and plant flowers.
“We also take care of all the trees,” he said. “We may have to hire a contractor to come in every once and a while to give us a hand with some of it, but as far as dead limbs and cutting them down when a tree is dying, we handle that too.”
Another part of the grounds crew’s job includes taking care of all of the many parking areas across the campus.
“You would think a parking lot wouldn’t be that much work, but a lot of the grounds are parking areas,” Harvell explained. “With that, you’ve got extra weed cutting, extra edging, extra trash pickup, plus in the winter months you’ve got to scrape the snow and ice off the parking lots.”
Harvell, an Army veteran, said the key to taking care of all that the team is responsible for requires a lot of teamwork.
“Everybody pitches in and helps out wherever they’re needed. We have to be a team because we have so much to do,” he said.
Harvell added that all of the hard work his team puts in pays off when someone pays them a compliment.
“Every once and a while you get lucky and have someone come by and thank you for what you’re doing, and it makes you feel good that people notice what we do,” he said.
For more information about the Salisbury VA Medical Center, visit www.salisbury.va.gov .

Michael Maddox is a public affairs specialist at the W.G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center.

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