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Vidant Health News: Environmental Services team innovates during COVID-19

May 28, 2020 posted by Vidant Health News

They are the unsung heroes – those who work behind-the-scenes to keep hospitals clean and safe for patients. Never have Environmental Services teams played a more critical role than right now.

Susan Carson and the Environmental Services team she supports take pride in the important roles they play at Vidant Medical Center

“We make sure that it’s safe and clean environment for our patients and our families to come and rest and get better,” said Carson, manager of Environmental Services at Vidant Medical Center.

And never has what they do been more important.

“They are in the bottom of the trenches every day, having to come in here and do what it takes to keep this whole facility safe,” Carson said.

COVID-19 has required all hospitals and health systems to rethink just about everything – including how they keep facilities clean.

“It’s a hospital but it’s also a hospital that has never encountered this type of disease before," Carson said. "Therefore, what we used to use yesterday is not effective in today. So we have to go and reach higher, do more, do it better.”

“That is their specialty, that’s what they do," said Dr. Julie Kennedy Oehlert, Chief Experience Officer at Vidant Health, "And I also think their extra attention to high-touch surfaces, things you don’t think about that people touch, because remember the virus can live on surfaces like the elevator buttons, like door handles and all of that extra special attention is what keeps us all really safe.”

Vidant has taken a number of precautions to keep everyone who comes through their doors safe – this includes universal screening and masking, to protect against this airborne virus; visitor restrictions and keeping COVID-19 patients separate from everyone else; and investing in disposable cleaning tools and new technology.

“We did add Solaris machines, which are UV cleaning machines for our ORs and COVID rooms, after our COVID-positive patients leave and go home, because that’s what we want them to do,” Dr. Oehlert said.

And while these behind-the-scenes teams focus on keeping the environment safe – they never lose sight of the human side of health care. 

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is, tomorrow is not promised," Carson said. "Make the best of each day, and do what you can do to make someone’s day brighter.”

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