Meet the unsung heroes of the pandemic: hospital housekeepers

Coronavirus

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Whether it’s deep cleaning a room or visiting with patients, the role of hospital housekeepers, or what Parkview Regional Medical Center & Affiliates calls the Environmental Service (EVS) team, has greatly expanded throughout the pandemic.

“It’s a lot sometimes,” said Karen Marshall, an EVS team leader at Parkview. “Literally from time we clock in to the time we leave, we are on the go.”

Marshall is one of about 160 employees on Parkview’s EVS team, who, according to her, each clean between 18 and 24 rooms a day.

Prior to the pandemic, she said it would take around 35 minutes to clean a room. Now, cleaning a COVID patient’s room can take up to two and half hours.

“We use UV lights, and we actually set the lights up in the room to help clean the rooms,” said Marshall. “Every time we have a COVID room we have to change curtains, gowns.”

In addition to cleaning the rooms, Marshall’s day to day consists of scheduling and answering phones and, perhaps most importantly, filling in as something hospital patients can’t have a lot of these days – visitors.

“They like to see us come in because we’re not the ones picking, taking blood, meds or anything,” said Marshall. “I have had patients before, say to me ‘oh my God I’m so happy you’re here. I haven’t seen anybody.’ They get excited about that and it does means a lot to them.”

Like doctors and nurses, Parkview’s EVS team is on the frontline of the pandemic. Marshall, who’s a mother of two, said at the beginning of the pandemic this caused concerns.

“I definitely was afraid of taking it home to my kids, but I would say now that we’ve gone through it and we’ve got our way so you know how things are supposed to be,” said Marshall. “It’s a little bit better, but you still worry.”

Despite any fears, she says the work is rewarding.

“I love my job, I love what I do and I don’t think I would do anything else,” said Marshall. “I like the fact that I’m the one that’s helping protect everyone.”

The EVS team’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. John Bowen, the president at Parkview said he’s grateful for their dedication.

“A clean environment is imperative to keep all of our patients, co-workers and visitors safe,” said Bowen. “Our EVS team has been a critical part of COVID-19 response efforts, ensuring every area of our hospital is well maintained and meets rigorous standards.”


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