Manuel Arechiga, a retired Southern California Edison (SCE) lineman, doesn’t remember much of the 11 days he spent at the Grossman Burn Center. In 2009, while working in an underground vault in the South Bay, he was badly injured when an electrical flash occurred. Thanks to the protective equipment he was wearing and quick response by his crew, Arechiga survived his burns and received treatment at Grossman.
“The nurses were fabulous. They were angels who took really good care of me and my family,” he said. “While I was unable to speak to my wife and children, the nurses told them straight up what was happening and made sure my kids were OK. The way they treated my family — that’s what really made the difference.”
Video Credit: Nicholas Roy
For 25 years, the Grossman Center has been the premier place for treating SCE front-line crews who suffer burn injuries. Safety is the No. 1 priority at the utility, but working inches away from thousands of volts of electricity can quickly turn one small mishap into life-threatening burns.
Ed Antillon, director of the line crews in SCE’s South East Division, has seen firsthand the impact Grossman has had on injured employees.
“While we must take every precaution to avoid an injury, it’s great to have an asset like Grossman in our community because of their knowledge of burn treatment and the way they care for the families of our injured employees,” he said. “I’m constantly reminding our crews to have a conversation with their family members about an emergency plan if an injury occurs, and that plan should involve getting to Grossman to get the best care available.”
Recently, Edison International, the parent company of SCE, presented Dr. Peter Grossman, director of the center, with a $25,000 grant for the center’s charitable foundation. The grant will go toward the Senior Burn Education Prevention Program and Project Faith.
The Senior Burn Education Program educates seniors in prevention and care of household burns. Project Faith supports a range of issues, such as funding gas cards for traveling to the center and transporting patients from overseas for surgical care.
“Edison and Grossman work together to make sure nothing slows up the process of returning someone to their normal life,” said Grossman. “Edison takes a personal stake in their employees that’s not just about getting them back to work, but getting them back to where they were before their injury. That’s our philosophy at Grossman Burn Centers and that’s why we have the deep relationship we do.”
“This effort is a perfect fit for us,” said Tammy Tumbling, SCE director of Philanthropy and Community Investment. “Edison does a lot of outreach to our community on electricity safety, so getting the word out on burn prevention and care supports our goal of promoting safety at home.”
The Grossman Burn Center traces its roots to the 1960s, when Dr. Richard Grossman, who passed away earlier this year at age 81, first started treating burn patients at a Sherman Oaks hospital. His son, Peter, now heads the center.
Caring for the whole family is what makes Grossman stand out from other hospitals that treat burns. This includes an area for the family to stay during the healing process and play-based therapy for the children to work through tough issues they may be facing.
“We try and support the spouses and the kids,” said Grossman nurse Elaine Rojas. “Many times when SCE linemen are injured, the wives and children may be afraid of dad going back to work. It’s important for us to have a system set up to address the family as well as the patients.”
While retired from his days as a lineman, Arechiga still keeps in contact with his colleagues at SCE and lends his support when he gets word of an injury.
“It meant so much to me and my family when the guys came around when I was at Grossman,” he said. “When I hear that there’s an SCE employee at the center, I make it a priority to go down there and let him know that he’s getting the best care available and things are going to be OK.”