Submitted by Providence

At Providence, every employee is called a caregiver because of the important role they play in keeping patients safe and providing excellent care.

Providence Halie Hill
Halie Hill. Photo courtesy: Providence

While nurses, doctors and others who serve on the bedside are often what most people visualize when they think of those working to fight off infections such as the COVID-19 virus, others behind the scenes at Providence such as the Environmental Services teams – housekeepers, linens, etc. – are critical to preventing infections.

“I’ve often said that our housekeepers are one of the most critical defenders in the fight against hospital-acquired infections,” said Dr. Kevin Caserta, chief medical officer for Providence St. Peter and Providence Centralia hospitals. “It is through their skill, hard work and dedication that we keep our patients and other caregivers safe – especially now during the past 18 months.”

Halie Hill’s first day with Providence Centralia Hospital was March 16, 2020 – the first day Providence in Southwest Washington admitted a patient with the COVID-19 virus. “Working during the pandemic has made me more aware of how fragile life is,” Halie says. “We play a key role in the cleanliness and sanitation of the hospital. It hasn’t been easy, but I love my job and my team.”

Providence Colleen Kuberka
Colleen Kuberka Photo courtesy: Providence

Nationally, about 3% of hospitalized patients will acquire an infection while hospitalized. That number had decreased slightly from 2015 to 2019, but according to the CDC, there was an uptick during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

“I am so thankful for our housekeepers and linen teams. They have been consistent, dedicated and creative during this time of increased need to sanitize,” said Marnie Boomer, director of Environment of Care. “Their courage every day makes it possible for Providence to meet our mission to serve all with steadfast love. I am so appreciative of each member of our team.”

And while things are always changing, caregivers are proud to care for the community. “Unfortunately, working with COVID is becoming the new normal,” said Providence St. Peter environmental supervisor Kim Roberts. “But whatever happens, our team pulls together to get the job done.”

Providence Tes Meeks
Tes Meeks. Photo courtesy: Providence

Many housekeepers – like most caregivers – come to work with the thought in the back of their mind: Will they get sick and/or take home an illness to their loved ones? Thankfully, they have full access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and take ownership in fighting infections.  “I’m honored to be here, helping save lives during this important time,” said Tes Meeks, who’s worked for Providence since 2008. “I love being able to help the community on a daily basis.”

“These dedicated caregivers help ensure safe, comfortable and clean facilities,” said Dr. Caserta. “Their knowledge and skills not only keep medical facilities running smoothly but support positive patient outcomes.”

While many patients never see housekeepers, some rely on them as another provider of emotional support. Colleen Kuberka works in the Providence Centralia Emergency Department. “I see a lot in the ED, and I love being there for patients and family members,” she said. “All of the caregivers are in this together to support our community.”

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