For the past 27 years, Donald (D.C.) Whitenack has worked steadily in a dynamic and important career field solely on the strength of his two-year Alamance Community College degree in Biomedical Equipment Technology.
Although he added a B.S. in Information Technology Management in 2018, Whitenack’s career has stood on the back of his ACC education for more than a quarter-century of success, supplemented along the way by additional technical training. Today he leads a team of 25 technicians at GE Healthcare in Asheville as the company faces the challenges related to the current COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
D.C. Whitenack earned his Associate in Applied Science degree in Biomedical Equipment Technology in 1993. Moving forward with his newfound education, he worked the next three years at UNC Hospitals as a Biomed Technician where he monitored and serviced medical equipment. He returned to Alamance County in 1996 to work at Alamance Regional Medical Center (ARMC) as Senior Biomedical Equipment Technician.
Whitenack’s next job took him to Boise, Idaho to work for St. Luke’s Health Systems. From 1999 to 2012 he advanced in his role as Clinical Engineering Technician, ultimately supplying primary support for the Heart and Vascular Institute where he was responsible for the maintenance and repairs of more than 40 ultrasound systems.
New employment with Aramark Healthcare Technologies as a contractor at Mission Health System brought Whitenack to Asheville, NC in early 2012. “I was in the manager’s role there when Mission decided to sign a major strategic agreement with GE Healthcare,” he said. “Despite this being a competitor, I was asked to remain in my position, and have it expanded to cover all of the GE-contracted hospitals in western North Carolina.”
Today as Service Delivery Leader for GE Healthcare in western North Carolina, Whitenack manages 25 biomedical technicians and imaging engineers who maintain and repair roughly 33,000 pieces of equipment in 11 hospitals across western North Carolina. These devices range in complexity from simple electronic thermometers to ventilators, anesthesia machines, CTs and MRI systems.
During the COVID-19 crisis, Whitenack and his team have continued to perform their regular maintenance duties on all of the equipment, as well as working on plans to increase the number of ICU and general patient beds at each site. The company’s goal this spring is to convert about 250 beds into ICU beds, nearly tripling intensive care unit capacity. With so much attention focused on critical equipment at hospitals, such as ventilators, infusion pumps and patient monitors, Whitenack says his department is providing a status report to hospital leadership on a daily basis.
“My job is to make sure that my team stays safe, they have the PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] necessary to safely perform their jobs, make sure that the regular, scheduled work gets completed, the ramp-up projects stay on-course and update hospital leadership as to the status of their critical equipment,” said Whitenack.
D.C. Whitenack has proved that a person can travel far and find success with a community college degree. “My two-year ACC degree has gotten me quite far in a career that is even more important during this pandemic,” he added.