During the first several weeks of the pandemic the atmosphere at the hospital was one of fear and uncertainty. The ever-changing guidelines from the province only added to the confusion and anxiety.
In Environmental Services, I have the privilege of working with colleagues who have a wealth of knowledge and experience. The dedication and passion of this team throughout the entire pandemic has been nothing short of admirable.
I remember the first time I was assigned to clean a confirmed COVID-19 positive patient room; it was terrifying. I stood in front of the closed door with many thoughts racing through my mind.
I thought to myself, “How did we end up like this? Why am I risking my life and the wellbeing of my family? Why would this patient want me in their room? I can’t restore their health.”
As my knees buckled, I took a deep breath, knocked, and gently opened the door announcing myself. I cleaned the room and after I finished, when I turned to leave the patient stopped me to say thank you and tell me how much they appreciated what I was doing. At that moment I knew I was where I needed to be and that my work was extremely important.
Since then, I have cleaned many COVID-19 positive patient rooms. I have worked in the COVID-19 Assessment Centre, Emergency Department, and Operating Room. We have adapted to many changes but one thing has always remained constant – we never compromise the integrity of our work. The safety of those that work and receive care here remains paramount.
Environmental Services staff have become viewed as the first line of defense against this virus. Our work and our contributions allow clinical staff to perform their work in a safe, clean environment so that they too can go home safely to their families.
It feels good to have a distinguished surgeon address me by name and tell me how great my work is. It is satisfying to have a seasoned nurse tell me how lucky her department is to have me there. It is extremely fulfilling to have a patient stop me and say, “Thank you for keeping me safe.” It has made everything over the past two years feel worth it.
My hope for the future is simple. When we can finally live free from isolation and face coverings, I hope that we all make a concerted effort to smile more. And in the distant future when my children describe to their children what it was like to live through a pandemic, I hope they share with pride that their mother was in the thick of it.