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Hospital Housekeepers Take on Rigorous Training to Become Nationally Certified During Pandemic

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Hospital housekeepers have always been an important part of the care team, but the coronavirus pandemic highlighted how critical it is to have a team that’s thorough and knowledgeable about sanitizing techniques.

“We understand even more so with COVID-19 that pathogens don’t care who you are. And environmental services is here to minimize the spread of any cross contamination,” says Joseph Ramos, manager of Environmental Services at Community Regional Medical Center.

Most of the public wasn’t aware at the onset of the pandemic how important it is to thoroughly clean surfaces. Casey Jenson, manager of Environmental Services (EVS) at Clovis Community Medical Center, agrees: “The whole pandemic brought to light how important environmental services is to the whole hospital … It put a magnifying glass on our practices.”

Wearing extra personal protection with masks and goggles required in patient care areas was challenging, says Guadalupe “Lupe” Garza, an environmental services team lead. Many of her colleagues had to overcome their fears of getting infected. “All of us had family members who went through it,” she says. “I lost my aunt to COVID. But being the team lead, I was here encouraging people, saying, ‘I know it’s scary, but we have to do our job to keep others safe.’”

Garza and fellow team lead Joanna Vasquez got a boost of confidence when they came together this past year in a classroom with nine of their colleagues for 10 weeks of rigorous study on best practices in cleaning and sanitizing in a healthcare facility.

All 11 took a two-hour test in July to become nationally Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Technicians (CHEST). They’re now among 343 certified healthcare EVS techs in California and among only 5,000 nationwide.

Read more at Community Medical Centers

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