Meet the critical cleaning crew responsible for keeping OHSU sanitized

Updated: Mar. 17, 2021 at 2:00 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - It’s critical work, truly tasked with stopping the spread of COVID-19.

“So, really anywhere that patients go, we follow right after, so whether it’s to the doctor’s office or surgical unit, or units with ICU’s, we clean the common areas, public spaces, patient rooms, surgical suits,” said Victor Hakim.

Hakim is an Environmental Services Supervisor at OHSU.

“So, pretty much anything having to do with patient care, we’re the ones in charge of sanitizing, disinfecting and making sure it’s safe for everyone to use,” he said.

Hakim said before the pandemic, they would try and clean most areas once a day. They’re going through some areas three times a day now, if not more.

“We’re just trying to really make sure we stay in front of it,” he said.

Hakim said staying in front of it means disinfecting everything, especially any high-touch areas in a hospital.

“Handrails, light switches, door handles, anything like that,” said Hakim. “Any chairs that people use in public spaces, we’re always making sure the hand sanitizer is refilled, so that’s one thing we always try and reiterate to our teams is, you know, you may feel like we don’t have the most important job, but in reality, we’re the ones from keeping this from spreading everywhere.”

Just like nurses and doctors, proper personal protective equipment is important as well.

“So now we wear full gowns, and we’ll do a face shield,” he said. “Depending on if they’ve had aerosol generating procedures, so that can release more droplets in the air, we might have to wear a respirator.”

Hakim said no doubt, it’s been a stressful year. His team doesn’t want to catch COVID, but they don’t want anyone else coming in contact with it either.

“You know, I’ve had a couple of my employees come up to me and say, they’re really stressed about what if they miss something,” he said. “They might be the indirect result of someone catching COVID and getting really sick from that, you know, but it’s really just reassuring people that you know, we’re doing the very best we can, trying to keep up with everything.”

Hakim said he always wants to make sure his team is doing well. He said OHSU has offered resources to them over the past year, when it comes to accommodations or caring for their mental health.