Published on: March 23, 2021
With more than 13 years of healthcare-facilities experience, Christopher Tamulonis is the Senior Director of the Facilities Management for Lenox Hill Hospital, a tertiary, magnet facility of the Northwell Health system. Christopher provides strategic and operational overview of the facility capital construction program, regulatory compliance, plant operations, maintenance and repair, and in-house construction.
“Christopher’s holistic leadership style has brought a balance to the facilities management department that has resulted in an increase in productivity and positive employee engagement. His leadership during the New York City COVID-19 response was invaluable; he continuously demonstrated a sound approach to technical and operational challenges while leading his team to overcome all obstacles in their path.” – Jonathan B. Cogswell, Assistant Vice President, Facilities Services & Engineering at Northwell Health | Western Region
What is one thing no one knows about you?
“I am a huge fan of the outdoors. I enjoy hiking, fishing and hunting with my family and friends.”
How did you get into the Facilities/Workplace field?
“I started in the maritime field right out of college as a Project Engineer for a shipyard in Ohio. When I decided to move back to New York in 2009, I was able to get a job as an Engineering Operation Supervisor (EOS) at Montefiore Medical Center, working in the cogeneration plant. There, I was able to learn about the healthcare industry and how facilities management ties to the clinical operations.
As I learned more about the administrator aspect of facilities management and how other operational departments run within a hospital, I decided I wanted to pursue a healthcare career at the senior-leadership level. Over the past decade I went from supervisor to senior director, learning many valuable lessons and experiences in the process.”
Tell us about a favorite project highlight.
“My favorite project that I was a part of was the new bed tower pavilion at Vassar Brothers Medical Center. For more than three years, I was part of various stages of the project, helping with many utility shutdowns, system tie-ins from the old to the new building, and the many temporary measures implemented to help build the pavilion. I learned a lot about “thinking outside of the box” when working side by side with various consultants and contractors.”
What is your greatest success story?
“My greatest success story would also be one of the darkest moments in my career: the NYC COVID-19 response. My daughter was just born a week before the first reported patient in New York City, and I was away on paternity leave for one week. When I came back the second week of March, the demand on the hospital infrastructure systems started to show. Even though no one truly knew what the extent of the pandemic in NYC would be, my department faced each challenge with poise and grace. I am VERY PROUD of my management team and every worker in the facilities management department at Lenox Hill Hospital. I would say, it was not my success but the team’s success: as a department, as a family.”
Tell us about a challenge or obstacle that you face in the Real Estate/Facilities world.
“One of the never-ending challenges of facilities management in a healthcare setting is understanding when and how to perform a construction project while limiting the impact on clinical operations. Each project comes with its unique risks and various forms to mitigate it. In a 24/7 clinical setting, the ‘right time’ to perform a system shutdown, repair or project can be very dynamic. I attribute ‘thinking outside of the box’ as a key skill that has helped me in overcoming such challenges.”
What learning experience would you pass onto future FMs?
- “Enjoy what you do as a profession. Many years down the line, you will look back and smile at what you were able to accomplish while enjoying it.
- Never back down from a new experience, job or project. You never know what you might learn!
- Technical knowledge will only get you so far as a leader. Communication skills and poise are what will separate you from the others.
- Nothing is for free, and there is no endless source of money! Learn to budget it and forecast it and where the sources revenue come from.
- Some projects take time and patience. Rome was not built in a day. If it was, everyone would have used the same contractor!”
Interviewed by Sonya Verny, MCR, Operations Director of Business Development in the Americas at Mace Group, IFMA NYC Secretary & Executive Committee Oversight for the Communications Committee