July 24, 2020
Every hour of every day, an Environmental Services (EVS) healthcare hero diligently works to make Methodist Hospital a safe place, free from germs, bacteria and infection. During these unprecedented times of long shifts and spikes in COVID-19 cases, EVS plays a critical role in the first line of defense in creating a clean space so patients and staff feel comfortable and safe.
An EVS team member manages several responsibilities on any given shift, focusing on hospital standard disinfection and sanitation. Cleaning patient rooms is one of the many and most important responsibilities EVS has. Every day patients thoroughly get their rooms disinfected, especially in high-touch areas such as doorknobs, light switches, bed handrails, remotes and call buttons. Personal restrooms are cleaned, all waste is removed from the room, and paper products are replaced. In order to meet the demands of admitting and discharging patients daily, EVS team members must quickly and effectively conduct discharge cleanings, or cleanings that keep rooms available for new patients. The goal is to flip a discharged patient’s room within one hour to allow minimal time between new admissions.
While medical team technicians help maintain clinical spaces, EVS undergoes terminal cleaning in surgical areas each night. This involves removing all objects in the room, cleaning lighting and air duct surfaces in the ceiling, and cleaning everything downward to the floor to ensure a sterile environment for the next operation. All items removed from the room are disinfected and sanitized thoroughly before brought back in. The overnight shifts focus heavily on surgical and ancillary cleanings as well as sterilizing the pharmacy and lab.
In addition to maintaining cleanliness and infection control measures, EVS is responsible for disposing of trash in all areas, including biohazardous waste. Special procedures are followed and staff are properly trained to dispose of garbage and medical waste as hospital employees regularly come into contact with a wide variety of elements. Staff also regularly attends to all public areas throughout the hospital, such as entries and corridors, waiting areas, the cafeteria and restrooms. This entails disinfecting surfaces and cleaning, buffering, and shining floors.
All hospital linen - to include scrubs, patient robes and bedding - is received and distributed through EVS daily. Staff is required to know proper linen management to ensure linens placed in patient rooms are disinfected and scrubs are readily available for medical teams.
“Most jobs have a slow day. There aren’t slow days in housekeeping,” commented Richard Burnette, Environmental Services Executive Director at Methodist Hospital. “I’m very happy with everything my team does. I know what they go through and how hard they work, especially during the times we’re facing.”
With the spike in COVID-19 cases over the last several weeks, the EVS team has worked relentlessly to ensure all available rooms are sanitized and ready for the next patient while also implementing additional cleaning precautions in all public areas. Richard said over the last 30 days, the EVS department has cleaned 5,070 rooms, and he does not anticipate a slow down for some time.
Infection prevention, sanitization, and cleanliness is always top of mind in hospitals. Now, it’s more important than ever. EVS is ready and equipped to work the frontlines of defense as Methodist Hospital meets the growing needs of COVID-19 cases in the community. While doctors and nurses have received much of the praise over the last several months, EVS team members are truly the unsung heroes in the battle to overcoming the pandemic. The Methodist Hospital Environmental Services team is comprised of 7 leaders and nearly 140 team members.
Recognizing the healthcare heroes who work day in and day out, one particular employee that stood out to Richard is Raquel Martinez. Raquel has worked with Methodist Hospital for the past five years and says she absolutely loves her job. “She’s never going to push back or say no,” Richard said. “Raquel always steps up to help and does so cheerfully and willingly. She’s just someone you like having around and can depend on.”
Though it’s not the job alone that brings her satisfaction, it’s the patients she gets to meet on a daily basis that Raquel cherishes the most. “Meeting patients and being someone they can talk to warms my heart, she said. “When you walk in the room, you can tell on the patients’ face that they’re happy to see you. When I know they are having a rough day, I tell them to have faith in God and it will all be okay,” she commented. With the current visitation restrictions in place, Raquel says she tries to be a family presence for patients and make them feel at home. Raquel said it’s impactful for her to see patients go from being down to having a smile on their face just from spending a little bit of time with them. “I feel something special. It’s something beautiful,” she recalls. “It really touches my heart.”
We would like to thank and recognize all of the healthcare heroes on the frontline of defense who selflessly devote themselves to providing compassionate care to our community. Your heroism and dedication is unmatchable.