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Healthcare’s unsung heroes of the pandemic



AUGUSTA, Ga.– As the U.S. continues reporting record COVID-19 cases, many hospitals in the area are full. Those hospital halls are undoubtedly walked by healthcare heroes, but they’re kept safe, sanitary, and running by the unsung hospital heroes– housekeeping.

“I’m just so proud of them because they don’t even think twice,” Director of Environmental Services at AU Health, Ken Philibin said. “They just come in and do what they need to do, when they need to do it, and stay if they need to stay, because they know it’s very important that we get our patients in and out.”

The Environmental Services team is responsible for keeping the entire hospital clean and sanitized for patients, staff, and visitors– and it’s no small feat.

“Our EVS staff is approximately 200 employees over 3 shifts. We are a 24/7 operation,” Philibin said. “There’s approximately 2.5 million square feet that we clean here on a daily basis, so it’s a big place obviously.”

Philibin says his staff continuously goes out of their way to lend a hand and work as a unit because we’re “stronger together”.

“If they’re asked to do something that they would not normally do [they do it] because they know that everybody is stretched thin and everybody is working hard, long hours and doing whatever we can to help each other,” Philibin said. “Primarily for all the patients, regardless of if they have COVID or not. We want to make sure we’re there to help all of our coworkers and teammates.”

Housekeeper Vanessa Williams says her role can be scary during a pandemic, but she reminds herself to stay positive.

“You’ve got to be strong, got to stay positive,” Williams said. “You have to hold your head up no matter what, and keep going.”

Working all hours of the day and night, the housekeepers of the EVS team strive to keep the virus at bay to provide peace of mind for anyone who enters the hospital.

“They truly are part of the unsung heroes helping to fight this pandemic,” Philibin said.