District recognises cleaners’ essential role in patient care
Environmental Services staff have been the first line of defence against COVID-19 across Sydney Local Health District.
On International Cleaners Day, the District wants to recognise the essential role cleaners play – particularly in protecting patients, their families, staff and visitors against the spread of the virus.
“I’d like to acknowledge the professionalism, hard work and commitment of the cleaners across the District. I value and appreciate the work you do. Not just today, but every day. We all do,” Dr Teresa Anderson AM, the District’s chief executive, said.
“For the first time, a Sydney Local Health District Cleaner of the Year Award will be presented at the District’s AGM later this year,” Dr Anderson said.
As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, the District implemented additional health, hygiene and cleaning measures to minimise the risk of infection – especially in hospitals.
And, many of the District’s cleaners stepped up to work in dedicated COVID-19 Intensive Care Units, hospital wards and clinics.
"The first day I was very nervous. But as soon as I started work, all the staff were extremely supportive. They made me feel welcome and comfortable,” Nazrul Manik, an RPA cleaner who works in the hospital’s COVID-19 ICU, said.
“This time has shown me that we are all one big team and the things we can do when we all work as one,” he said.
Canterbury Hospital cleaner Walde Koita-Seck volunteered to work at a COVID-19 in-patient ward.
“Others were worried about me but I was happy to work in the COVID-19 ward. I’ve been here for 14 years. I still enjoy what I do. I like to chat with the patients as I work,” she said.
Elsewhere, the District’s cleaners enhanced their routines to include the frequent cleaning of surfaces and fixtures used repeatedly by different people throughout the day – like door handles, light switches, hand rails and lift buttons.
Their vigilance is key to the District’s ongoing success in reducing the risk of transmission of the virus. To help, the number of cleaners was boosted to about 550 across the District.
And, new technology has been deployed. The CARPS task management app, which has been implemented at RPA and Concord hospitals, streamlines requests for assistance and job allocation.
It’s not only doctors and nurses who are at the forefront of caring for patients. The District’s cleaners are an integral part of the journey too.
A cleaner’s simple acts of compassion – a friendly smile, a listening ear, or a kind word – while they work often makes a lasting impact on patients and their families.
“I love my job. I do my job 100 per cent every day. I come to work with a smiling face and I go home with a smiling face. I always talk to the patients. They’re happy to see me,” Nurhan Balyemez, a cleaner at Concord Hospital, said.
“Our role is very important. If we don’t clean the hospital, patients can’t come and the nurses and doctors can’t do their jobs,” she said.
It’s a sentiment echoed by Eric Lambert who has worked as a cleaner at Balmain Hospital for the past five years.
“We’re a frontline team. It’s an essential service – that’s what motivates me. It’s not a glamorous or highly paid job but it’s important work.
“Communication is key. There’s mutual respect between the ward’s Nursing Unit Manager, nurses and our team. Our NUM brings out the best in us and we go the extra mile.
“We’re quiet achievers and sometimes we may be easy to overlook. But, we do an essential job and we do it well. We’re all working hard to make the hospital a better place,” he said.
To show our heartfelt appreciation, the District's cleaners received a "heart bun" in recognition of the outstanding job that they do.
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