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Fathers and Sons on the Job

Electricians Jim and Zach McCann.
This month Americans pay tribute to fathers who, consciously or not, have a profound influence on their children. Fathers and sons share a special bond when they work together, as Dome discovered from three such pairs.

Jim and Zach McCann, JHH

Zach McCann had been a manager at Home Depot for eight years when his father Jim, an electrical mechanic I in Facilities Engineering, told him about an opening in his department. Now Zach is one of four electrical apprentices going through a four-year program.

Working with your dad—especially one like Jim, who’s been on the job for 39 years—can pose problems, but not for the McCanns. “We feel fine about working together,” says Jim. “We ride in together. Often, we’ll have lunch at the market. We take turns paying.”

Every once in a while the McCanns work together. They wired remodeled space in the NICU. They wired the Gamma Knife Center in Weinberg, a job done entirely from scratch, with state-of-the-art equipment they’d never seen before.

When Zach was younger, Jim taught his only child the trade. Now, his son keeps him current on technology and technique. “We had our own way of bending pipe in the old days, but he showed me an easier, quicker way,” says Jim.

Jim could probably make more money in private industry, but that’s not where his priorities lie. “When the other guys talk about jobs they’re doing outside, I always remind them that the hospital comes first.” Evidently, he’s passed that work ethic on to Zach. “I know he expects commitment,” says Zach. “But I don’t need him to tell me that. I already know how important the work is.”

Paul and Matt Beeker, Bayview

Matt Beeker turns to his dad, Paul, any time of the day or night.

As director of Facilities, Paul Beeker manages 55 employees of all different trades who handle everything from preventive maintenance, to emergency repairs, to minor construction projects. “I have to make sure things get done,” says Beeker. “I’m on call 24/7.

His son Matt is every bit as busy. He’s the sixth floor nursing unit secretary by night, paramedic-in-training by day, and volunteer fireman on call. “He keeps lots of balls in the air,” says Paul.

Often, when Matt gets off work early in the morning, he’ll call Paul. “Hey, Dad, feel like making some pancakes?” The answer is always yes. “So many kids these days don’t bother talking to their parents,” says Paul. “I keep the communication going.”

Paul draws on his parenting skills when he manages his Facilities team. “I try to treat the guys with respect and give them the tools they need to do their jobs.” Matt’s picking up on those values, too. “My dad is always there for me and for everyone else. I admire how he treats people all the same.”

Joy and James Pallikal, HCGH

On Sundays, James and Joy Pallikal find time to pray in the HCGH chapel.
Nineteen-year-old James Pallikal has always wanted to be a doctor. Working as a transporter at Howard County General Hospital for the past year has only strengthened his resolve. His father, Joy, has been a HCGH respiratory therapist for six years. The two run into each other often during Joy’s three 12-hour shifts. Sometimes father and son work side by side—Joy helping patients breathe as James transports them quickly to another unit.

“I see a different side of him here,” says Joy. “He works hard.” Joy tries to keep his distance and advises other relatives who work together to do the same. “Let them have their identity, and treat them with respect.” James, a UMBC student, says one perk to the arrangement is that Dad buys lunch. The down side? “He always knows where to find me if he needs something.”

Asked if he’s learned anything from his father, James replies matter-of-factly: “You know how it is with parents. You don’t even know you’re learning from them, but you are.”

—Judy Minkove



Johns Hopkins Medicine

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