Editor’s note: This is the first in a multiple-part series focusing on the AU and AUHealth Facilities Services Division and how it impacts the enterprise.
Kellie Krecskay had no idea what was in store for her when she clocked in to work on Sept. 7.
Krecskay is a technician with the Medical Center’s Environmental Services Department, and she was surprised to learn she’d have a shadow that day – me. She assumed she would be training me as a new employee, as did most other Environmental Services staff members when they spotted me (a new face) in the basement of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia that morning. When I told them that I was going to help Krecskay do her job that day, the response was nearly unanimous: “Why?”
A reasonable question, certainly. Who would willingly volunteer to scrub toilets and sinks, mop floors and vacuum carpets in a hospital? Well … me. I wanted to see for myself the vital role Environmental Services, or EVS, plays in the success of the Medical Center.
Healthcare delivery is so much more than direct patient care, and EVS is a big part of the patient care experience by providing the cleaning and care of facilities that prevents the spread of disease. We know that proper hand hygiene aids in infection control; so does the proper cleaning of surfaces that hands come in contact with.
Sept. 7-10 is observed as National Healthcare Environmental Services Week to spotlight the important work EVS does. EVS personnel understand exactly what chemical or disinfectant is required to kill c. difficile, MRSA, rhinovirus and enterovirus, just to name a few. They are on their feet and moving at a fast pace eight to 12 hours per shift.
Augusta University Medical Center EVS staff is responsible for 2 million clinical and non-clinical square feet on a daily basis. The department uses more than 1,500 gallons of cleaner a week.
For four hours that day, I made the rounds with Krecskay as she cleaned the first floor of CHOG. I didn’t just watch from the sidelines as she did her job; I jumped in and cleaned toilets, swept and mopped, emptied trash cans and vacuumed. Toilet after toilet. Sink after sink. Carpet after carpet.
Thirty minutes in, I had a broken a sweat. By the end of my time with her, I desperately wanted a nap.
And, I did it all with a smile. I couldn’t help it. Krecskay was unfailingly personable and had a warm greeting for everyone we passed. It’s “service with a smile,” she said. It can go a long way.
“Does it ever get tedious?” I asked her.
It does, Krecskay admitted.
“Then I get to do it all over again at home,” she said.
Is it worth it? You bet. With every spray of disinfectant, with every donning of blue latex gloves (a fresh pair for each room cleaned), with every swipe of the mop, Krecskay knows what she’s doing makes a difference in the lives of patients.