If you imagine that cleaning a hospital is like cleaning your own house, think again. No matter how bright your white glove is, it’s nothing compared to that of the housekeeping team at Prowers Medical Center.
Did you know that the housekeeping team must clean hospital rooms every day even if they were not used? Or if you sneak into an empty patient room to use the bathroom, they have to go in and clean the entire room, top to bottom?
That’s because they consider themselves the front line against infectious disease, and they meet high standards where every inch of the hospital has to be sanitized, not just cleaned. It’s a huge job for the 9-member team who keeps 96,500 square feet of space spotless, germ free and well stocked with towels, sheets, gowns, blankets, pillows and more.
“We rely on EPA recommendations for our disinfectants and all housekeepers are trained on how to best use chemicals to fight all types of organisms. People don’t realize that we can’t just run over with any old rag and chemical to wipe up a spill. It takes time because it’s a very methodical process,” said Shaun Beckett, Facilities Manager.
There are different protocols for different rooms and different situations. Imagine being responsible to clean up after a patient with an infectious disease, like MRSA. It’s an incredibly important job to ensure the health and safety of others; one the team takes very seriously.
“I’m proud of the good work our team does. I often ask myself while I’m cleaning, ‘Would I want my family member to come in to a dirty room? No, I would want them to come into a clean, sanitized hospital,’” said Linda Morales, a housekeeper who has been with PMC for 4 years.
The hospital is inspected regularly by the state for compliance, but Prowers Medical Center takes several other steps to ensure they are meeting their own strict standards. An infection control nurse double checks their work, as does the quality department and hospital leaders. When needed, the team uses a black light to ensure they’ve gotten all germs, especially when it comes to infectious diseases.
“One golden rule is that nothing goes from one room to the next—including cleaning rags, laundry or bedding, so if there is an infection in a room it stays in that room,” Beckett added.
Cleaning the 24 patient rooms is just one part of the team’s daily schedule. They are also responsible to clean all public areas daily, along with observation rooms, exam rooms and dauntingly, operating rooms each day, even if they went unused (Specialized surgical techs clean the OR rooms in between surgeries). Operating rooms get a deep clean every day from ceiling to floor, which takes up to two hours per room, maintaining a sterile environment.
“Besides cleaning all areas of the hospital we also have to be available for emergencies, like spills and accidents. It’s a dedicated team that does what we need to do to get the job done right—even if that means staying late,” Morales said.
The hospital handles over 100,000 pounds of linen every year that’s sent out to a closely regulated vendor to wash and sanitize. That’s approximately over 100 sheets, over 100 towels and dozens of patient gowns a day. They also empty approximately 300 trashcans throughout the hospital. On top of all this, they just endured a major remodel that involved about two-thirds of the facility that demanded extra time to clean up demolition messes and dust.
“Our housekeepers are truly unsung heroes. If it wasn’t for their dedication, this hospital wouldn’t be up and running, because it’s got to be clean and sanitized first, before anything else can happen here,” concluded Anna Bockhorn, Facilities Management Assistant.
If you are planning a visit to Prowers Medical Center soon, thank a housekeeper for their incredible dedication to your health and safety. They will surely appreciate it.