Loyal Team Helps Supervisor through Cancer Treatments

As facilities maintenance supervisor for plant operations at Eskenazi Health, Chris A. “Cal” Linkous says he and his employees “get into about anything — anything and everything.”

Linkous has worked at Eskenazi Health for 16 years. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a slow day here,” he says. He resolves “anything from a lightbulb to a major leak going down two or three floors.”

Linkous is proud of his 12-member team, whom he describes as “easy to get along with, hard workers. I don’t have one person that will question anything I ask them to do.”

He would need their support when he learned he had oral cancer, especially when he became an inpatient for 12 days last April.

His doctors; Wenhua Chen, M.D. and Avinash Mantravadi, M.D.; “removed a third of my tongue and part of the floor of my mouth,” he says, then rebuilt his tongue with his arm tissue. Cancerous lymph nodes were removed from his neck during the procedure, and he had a tracheotomy as well.

Linkous is not easily rattled. A former Figure 8 racer, he once gushed to friends after a car wreck, “Wow, Kings Island don’t have a ride as much fun as this was.”

His lack of control as a patient, however, was unsettling. “I couldn’t even go to the bathroom by myself without assistance,” he explains. “I couldn’t speak for nine days because of the tracheotomy . . . .”

The isolation depressed him. He was grateful to his medical staff, especially a nurse who “just put her hand on my hand, and she just stayed there.”

His son and wife split the visiting hours, communicating with him through his iPad. But he couldn’t sleep in his recliner in the early mornings before visiting hours. “I’d just sit in the room and just stare,” he says.

Fortunately, facilities maintenance staff members are on hand 24-7. Before and after visiting hours, they “came up a lot,” he says. “My boss actually had to send out an email . . . to all of our facilities staff to tell them not to come up to my room as much as they were.” Those from other departments visited too, including Karen Tucker, RN, the nursing administrative director for critical care, and Daniel Kloc, director of facilities planning & management and his staff.

Frequent visits weren’t Linkous’s only advantages, as when he discovered “the recliner that they had in the room wasn’t that comfortable, so I sent a text to one of my guys, and said hey, see if you can find me one of those recliners like in labor and delivery. Next thing I know, the guys are wheeling up a new recliner and taking the other one out.” He was moved to a more comfortable room a day early thanks to Angela Hubbard, patient placement coordinator, he says.

The kindness of the Eskenazi Health staff has always struck Linkous, who observes “how friendly everybody is, not just who reports to me and works for me, but everybody you see in the hallways and different departments.”

While an inpatient, he noticed what it meant “just being able to see all the people that take pleasure in helping the patients . . . . They took very good care of me. I don’t think that I could have asked for a more friendly and caring nursing staff than what I had.”

Linkous struggled sitting still for so many days. “I like to go out and do stuff,” he says. He kept noticing things “for my people to fix. I would text them and say, this room, it needs a new ceiling tile.” He also notified his employees about stray paint on a door.

Unfortunately for Linkous, multiple departments were on the lookout after he returned to work. “Snitches,” as he jokingly called them, would prevent him from moving a chair or report him for taking risks.

Linkous is now recovering from a follow-up surgery and has another one in front of him. He’s tired of liquid food, his primary diet since April. Whatever comes next, though, he knows his staff will be there, ready to guarantee he has the best recliner available.

headingtoline link-1-arrow minus next-arrow plus prev-arrrow radio-off select-icons radio-on