What Crystal Hutchins does for a living, though her official title and mild manner may belie it, is rescue people from bad days.
"If they have locked themselves out of their office or out of their file cabinet, or they have had a sick child come in and they have a mess up there, I take care of it," she said.
Hutchins is a service specialist with the Carroll County Health Department, which, as titles go may be literally accurate, but fairly fails to capture the full scope of her role. There are multiple subdepartments within the Health Department, from medical assistance transportation to environmental health to nursing and more. Hutchins is the connective tissue that binds them all together and keeps healthy their symbiosis with the building itself.
"There are things that all the departments need but can't necessarily handle for themselves, like when they need security, when they need the mail," she said.
It's an absolutely essential role, the type of support that makes every other mission of the Health Department possible, according to Carroll County Health Officer Ed Singer.
"Crystal Hutchins is an unsung hero for us here at the Health Department because she is responsible for doing just about anything that is not involved in everybody else's job description," he said. "It can be anything from the lights are out and they are not working, to we've got a back up in the bathroom and somebody has to deal with it ... everybody knows you can always rely on Crystal."
It is Hutchins who handles the Health Department mail or punches a new phone line when someone moves their office. As the master-key holder, it is Hutchins who creates new security keycards and the metal keys necessary to get into every filing cabinet, and the front doors for that matter.
"I get here about an hour early, and I pretty much check out the outside and inside of the building, make sure everything is secure. I unlock doors that have been secured the night before," she said. "That's at 7 a.m., and everybody else arrives an hour later at 8 a.m."
Hutchins makes a point of touring the building in order to spot problems — a cracked ceiling tile, a suffering air conditioning unit — before anyone else does and thinks to fill out a work order. It's a testament to the importance of Hutchins' job, and the efficiency with which she does it, that people tend to forget these tasks even need to be done until she goes on vacation, according to Singer.
"When she's not here — when she's on leave — it's like people get to the door, and it's like, 'Did somebody forget to unlock the door today? Because we can't get in,' " he said. " 'Who do we call now because Crystal is not here?' "
Although she went to college for graphic design and tried her hand at that for awhile, Hutchins said she eventually found herself working in the Health Department's Transportation Department.
"Then this position came up because the guy that was doing this before, he went to be a police officer," she said. "I applied for it two-and-a-half years ago, almost three now, and I've been doing this since."
One thing that keeps Hutchins going? The job is rarely boring.
"This job is very interesting. I am not only responsible for the glue holding all these pieces together, I have my own individual things I take care of, like the fleet for instance. ... All the departments have their own fleet of vehicles," she said. "They run all their own vehicles and keep track of and divvy the vehicles out. I don't take care of that kind of thing, but I do take care of all the red tape and paperwork that goes behind it."
She tracks all the chemical safety data for all departments, receives and records shipments of medications and knows where every single piece of furniture, which is state property after all, is in the building is at all times. And then there are broken lights and flooding bathrooms. Hutchins works hard, but it hardly seems like a lot of work.
"I really like it because my day goes really fast," she said. "It's one thing after another because there are so many departments and the building is so big. There's different things going on all the time."
Behind the Scenes
In honor of Labor Day, the Times is taking a look this week at four unsung heroes of the workplace.
Monday: Theater technician
Tuesday: Victims advocate
Wednesday: Service specialist
Latest Carroll County News
To watch Health Department service specialist Crystal Hutchins, visit www.carrollcountytimes.com.