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Snow & Ice Rx

  • SIMA
- Posted: February 27, 2018

By Cheryl Higley 

Aerial_Main Campus

Cleveland Clinic Main Campus by the numbers

U.S. News & World Report Ranking: #2 hospital in the country (#1 in cardiology)

  • Patient visits in 2016: 6.2 million
  • Employees: 20,000+
  • Size: 216+ acres
  • Entry/Egress Doorways: 115
  • Streets: 1 mile
  • Sidewalks: 10 miles
  • Parking lots: 17
  • Parking garages: 7
  • Buildings: 40
  • Hotels: 3
  • Helicopter pads: 3
  • Tolerance for snow: 0

Mario Cammarata oversees operations for world renowned Cleveland Clinic  

As Administrative Program Coordinator/Grounds for the Cleveland Clinic, Mario Cammarata orchestrates the hiring of snow and ice management professionals to service more than 80 Cleveland Clinic-owned properties across Northeast Ohio.

Cammarata understands what it takes to do the tough job he requires from the 15 companies selected to provide year-round exterior maintenance for properties that run the gamut from full-service hospitals to administrative office buildings to urgent care clinics.

“I started in the grounds department on main campus and spent five years on the shoveling crew,” he says. “You get to know the campus very well.”

Each Cleveland Clinic-owned facility has its own requirements and service priorities for snow and ice operations, and Cammarata gives the subcontractors freedom to establish a game plan based on the Cleveland Clinic’s level of service requirements.

Given the distance between all the sites, facilities managers and security personnel are often his eyes and ears; but as the ultimate overseer, Cammarata will visit as many sites as possible, usually after a snowfall, to ensure the properties are well cared for.

“We have a lot of caregivers and strive to provide a healing environment for our patients,” he says. “Our expectation is to keep people safe and that no one falls.”
Davey Tree writes the prescription for success at Cleveland Clinic’s 216-acre main campus


Just east of downtown Cleveland, OH, is a 216-acre city within a city that is home to the main campus of the Cleveland Clinic, ranked the No. 2 hospital in the United States by US News & World Report. With 20,000 employees and nearly 17,000 patients traversing the main campus each day, winter operations are approached with surgical precision.

Since 2009, snow and ice management services at the main campus have been managed by Davey Tree’s Cleveland West branch, led by Branch Manager Vito Monteleone. The branch services about 15 Cleveland Clinic sites, including four hospitals, satellite operations and doctors’ offices. Monteleone’s experience with the main campus extends back to 1996, when his family’s company managed operations. Davey Tree purchased Monteleone Landscaping Co. in 2009, and operations at the Cleveland Clinic continued without skipping a beat.

Downtown, Monteleone’s 17-person team is responsible for all sidewalks, five parking garages, 40 buildings, three hotels and three helipads; in addition, he has a service provider that services more than 15 surface parking lots and campus roadways.
Davey Tree’s responsibilities increased about three years ago when the Cleveland Clinic eliminated its grounds department that had previously managed the sidewalks, doorways and some of the roads, explains Administrative Program Coordinator/Grounds Mario Cammarata.

“We are grateful to have had Davey Tree here for so long. They take it seriously and are very engaged in making our campus safe for our patients and employees,” he says. “They have good knowledge of how it needs to be done.”

In the zone
The size and complexity of the site and what Monteleone calls “below zero tolerance” expectations requires a lot of planning, equipment staging and labor deployment prior to the storm. Depending on timing it could take 30 minutes or more to get from one side of the campus to the other (about three-quarters of a mile) since major city streets run through the center of the site and three shift changes means 8,000 employees navigating the walkways and intersections at different times.

“It gets very congested on main campus. We try to put people in place so they don’t have to jump into traffic to get where they need to be,” he says.

To expedite response time, Monteleone’s team deploys to one of three dedicated zones when there is a 30% chance of snow. Each person knows their zone, their assigned piece of equipment and their responsibilities. This gives them time to pre-treat areas if necessary, stage materials and equipment, and be ready to move when the snow starts to fall.

“The whole site has to be worked at the same time. A sweep from one side of the campus to the other is impossible,” he says, noting that Lake Effect snows and the winds that whip off Lake Erie make blowing and drifting a headache. “You can’t wait for an inch or two on the ground - it’s too late. We are working that site from the first flake to the last and then some. After the snow stops, we always shift into maintenance and cleanup mode. That could go on for a couple of days.”

Davey Tree has three zones that allow the team to simultaneously tackle the surface lots, parking garages, sidewalks and other entry/exit pathways of the expansive Cleveland Clinic main campus.

Equipment in play
Equipment staging and salt storage take place at a secure site just off the main campus. The intricacies of the Cleveland Clinic site require the use of specific equipment for each task:

  • Skid steers are used on the parking garages.
  • Wheel loaders with pushers maintain surface lots.
  • Plow trucks are used to clear main roads, side streets and drives between buildings.
  • Sidewalks are managed with tractors equipped with 60-inch rubber-edged blades and drop spreaders.
  • Ventrac machines are used in lower-clearance areas near signage and roads since they have heated cabs.
  • Two shovel crews are in charge of taking care of the details: steps, ADA clearances, curbs, doorways and ramps.

Although rubber or poly edges are used due to the variety of surfaces and specialty materials embedded in the sidewalks (e.g., marble and copper), the team will bring out the brooms and snowblowers for cleanup detail when pedestrian traffic is absent.

Permeable Surfaces_edited (250x236) sidewalk scuplture_edited_edited (226x250)_edited
Unique surfaces and the Cleveland Clinic’s continued use of more sustainable materials, such as permeable paving surfaces, limits the equipment and materials that can be used for snow and ice management.

Monteleone has switched to primarily drop spreaders for deicing, and the Cleveland Clinic requires the use of a sodium chloride-magnesium chloride blend. Both are designed to reduce the amount of product used and increase the residual impact of the amount that is spread. In 2016, more than 1,500 tons of salt, 60 pallets of bagged material and six pallets of urea for the helipads were used. The majority of the deicing materials are a phone call away from the Cargill mine located on the shores of Lake Erie, about 5 miles west of campus.

Cammarata says the Davey Tree team is able to respond to concerns through the Cleveland Clinic’s internal work order system that will send an email to Monteleone or one of his managers. In addition, after big events they drive the site together to make notes and evaluate whether hauling and relocation is necessary to free up parking spaces, which are at a premium.

“We work with their system to get to areas where there may be issues. It’s not a complaint, but more if there is a situation that needs attention and we need to shift resources,” Monteleone says.

Davey_Facility Campus plan
Given the large amount of vehicle traffic and pedestrian congestion, Davey Tree will stage equipment at sites across the campus so that when the team deploys, they can go straight into operations.

Looking to the future

Monteleone says servicing a site as large as the Cleveland Clinic, which continues to expand in a tight footprint, requires its service providers to keep up to date on the newest equipment and technology and how to tailor operations to take into account any LEED restrictions, Cleveland Clinic requirements, etc.

“It’s a great partnership. They take patient and employee safety seriously, and the people who work for (them) have to do the same. We know the expectations of the Cleveland Clinic. It’s a great partnership. On both sides it’s something to be proud of.” 

Cheryl Higley is editorial director of SIMA/Snow Business magazine. Email her at Photos by Jerry Mann.
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