From Aerospace to Dialysis Technology

Meet MRP’s Victor Garcia – Supervisor, Dialysis Technology, HSC Renal Program

It was just over 17 years ago when Victor Garcia made a significant career change that led him to working with Manitoba Renal Program (MRP).

After working with Bristol Aerospace, Garcia moved onto Lockheed Martin as a lead technologist and worked on projects including manufacturing of Tomahawk missiles, Canadian frigates and defense weapons. When Lockheed Martin shut down Winnipeg’s operations, Garcia opted out of an Ottawa transfer and pursued a career in health-care technology.

“I wanted to be involved in helping people,” Garcia explains. With his background in aerospace and previous education from Red River College’s Electronic Engineering Technology program, Garcia became a dialysis technologist with the renal program at Health Sciences Centre (HSC). Technologists maintain all dialysis-related equipment. After about 14 years, Garcia became Supervisor to help manage the rapidly expanding program.

“Because of the increase in dialysis over the last five years, the logistics, and the scope of the work has increased,” says Garcia. One initiative Garcia developed to help manage the work load was a service database.

“It prioritizes the incoming services calls and that really made a difference right there.” Service calls are prominently displayed in the technologists’ work space where machines, parts, technologists and tools are housed together in tight quarters not far from HSC’s main dialysis unit.

Garcia and nine additional technologists service five different models of dialysis machines and eight different water treatment systems, as well as multiple models of a variety of other support equipment. The total is more than 600 pieces of medical equipment at several HSC locations, 17 rural locations throughout Manitoba (and one in Ontario) and an additional 24 patient homes across the province.

Garcia points at the board and explains where various technologists are that day – Selkirk, Garden Hill and Dauphin.

Apart from managing day-to-day priorities, planning for program needs, and keeping up with changes in technology, Garcia has to manage emergency service calls which can be challenging.

“We’ve had some difficult moments where remote units have shut down and we had to coordinate a technologist to get out there within hours.

“It’s overwhelming because you’re looking at these people’s lives. They are trying to stay at home – for us to make it happen and have the unit running within that afternoon was quite an accomplishment.” The alternative, he explains, is a patient not having access to their treatment and needing medivac transportation out of the community.

There have also been times when entire dialysis units were down due to water system malfunctions. While the emergency calls can be a challenge, other aspects of the job give Garcia a proactive impact on the program.

“I’ve been involved in acquiring new technology for the program to help patients,” he explains. “We are always looking for the latest technology in dialysis.”

Garcia credits his boss, MRP Manager of Dialysis Technology Doug Franklin, with bringing Manitoba to the forefront in the use of dialysis technology.

“We brought the 5008 Fresenius machine into Canada and it was Manitoba that led the way.” Garcia says since Manitoba brought the machine to North America, it has become standardized to use in Canada and is now being introduced in the United States.

When not managing HSC’s renal program technology needs, Garcia spends spare time volunteering as the president of The Spanish Club of Winnipeg.

“I was born in Spain and came here when I was two or three years old.” The club offers Spanish language and dance lessons and helps put on the Spain Folklorama pavilion though Garcia notes you won’t see him dancing there anytime soon.

“I never got into the dancing – my sisters did.” He also spent 15 years coaching soccer.

Garcia looks forward to continuing to support the renal program and exploring advancing technology. He also talks positively about his team at HSC. “We really have a great group here.”

Virtual Tour of a Dialysis Technology Space

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