“They're experts. They do this every day.”
Ask any one of the doctors, nurses or researchers at UK HealthCare and they’ll agree: Environmental Services keeps the hospital running. UK HealthCare’s Environmental Services Department is made up of roughly four hundred unsung heroes who not only ensure the cleanliness and sanitation of the entire hospital, but also the safety of every patient, staff, visitor and family member that steps through its doors.
“They're caregivers, just like a physician or a doctor,” said Chase Giboney, Enterprise Director of Environmental Services. “You may not see them all the time, but without those individuals doing what they do every day, it would create a huge challenge.”
“We're making sure that whoever's down the hall or whoever's coming in, that you're kept safe, that you have the ability to get back to being healthy in a clean and safe environment, while also protecting our visitors, our other caregivers and our health care workers,” said Chase.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, UK HealthCare’s Environmental Services Department has worked tirelessly to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the hospital. But this pandemic didn’t catch the team off guard: the Environmental Services Department stays prepared for outbreaks through regular infectious disease training, pandemic response training and zeroing in on high-volume surfaces shown to be the places where dangerous germs and bacteria can spread.
“We're trying to make sure that we do everything to continue to protect the patients, and make sure that they're not getting exposed to anything from one of their loved ones,” said Alissa Andrews, Environmental Services Operation Manager. “We have a huge role in helping keep COVID-19 under control, especially with our hospital being a Level One trauma center. The Environmental Services team are the ones out there. They're on the front lines. They are working night and day to make sure that things are clean.”
The Environmental Services Department follows a highly specific and extremely vigorous ten-step process in every patient room to ensure nothing goes uncleaned or unsanitized. The first step of the process is to greet the patient, before removing all trash, carefully cleaning and dusting away from the patient, thoroughly wiping down surfaces, sweeping, mopping, and sanitizing. The final step of the process is to always say good-bye to the patient and assure them that they can call if they need any additional cleaning or sanitizing.
“We try to teach it as if the next patient in a room could be a family member of ours,” said Megan Block, Environmental Services Training Manager. “It's all about the patient. We hold every patient's health to the same standards, but we also like to personalize it to each patient as well.”
“When speaking with a patient or their guests, we let them know that we're not just there to clean,” said Charlene Hale, Environmental Services Safety Manager. “Everybody's definition of cleaning is different, but when we say ‘sanitize,’ that gives it a whole different meaning to what they're doing. It's going to help those patients feel a little bit calmer and less worried about catching something.”
“We're here for them, not just as cleaners, but we're here to be the person that they may need to talk to because right now they're not getting a lot of visitors,” said Nakia Coffman, Environmental Services Hospitality Manager. “Even if it's something that's outside of our scope, at least we can go and try to get help, because that's what we're here for. Our cleaning process is a step-by-step process, but it also includes continuously talking to the patient and building that relationship with them. Just let them know that we're here to keep you safe, but to be that person for you as well."