Everyday Hero: Candler Hospital’s Environmental Services Department

Environmental Services works to keep Candler Hospital clean through the coronavirus pandemic
Environmental Services works to keep Candler Hospital clean through the coronavirus pandemic(St Joseph's/Candler Health System)
Updated: May. 20, 2020 at 5:32 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -We know how highly contagious COVID-19 is, prompting many to use face masks, require hand washing, and sanitizing.

At the hospital, there’s a team of professionals trained to keep it clean and kill the virus.

It’s a job not often recognized but one that has been thrust into the spotlight in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Environmental Services stood ready to serve.

“It’s a big responsibility, but I take it day by day,” says Michelle White, a team member at Candler Hospital’s Environmental Services. "I remember when I get up in the morning what my job is. I’m going there to make sure that people who are sick need to be in a clean environment.”

This is a job Michelle White is grateful for. She’s been cleaning and sanitizing Candler Hospital for 8 years. She got the job just months after a devastating house fire killed her grandbaby.

“It took everything from me," she says. "I had to be there for my daughter cause she lost her child and it was a hard process, but we all as a family unit we made it through.”

She says a huge help after the tragedy was her job cleaning the labor and delivery floor. Her co-workers supported and encouraged her through the most challenging days. While some may see her job as less than glamorous, Michelle says it’s shaped her.

“It changed me as a person in whole, it changed me,” Michelle says. "It taught me to respect other folks to if I clean your room I act like that’s somebodies kin to me in the room and I am going to do my very best so I have respect for everyone it made me grow as a person.”

But little did she know how much more she would grow. While her job is the same, she now cleans on the COVID unit of Candler Hospital. The pandemic has reinforced just how critical her role is.

"When I step in the room my heart flutters o’and it’s like okay you can do this,” she says.

She says there’s a lot of pressure working with the virus daily. She is completely covered in PPE and cleans everything from floor to ceiling, then a UV cleaning robot comes in behind her to ensure everything has been sanitized. Michelle says the challenge is worth it, especially alongside other frontline workers who are saving lives.

“Knowing that we are helping society by making sure that if somebody comes in with it the nurses doing their part, environmental doing their part and the doctors are doing their part and it feels good to see somebody go home,” she said.

That’s her reward to know her efforts are helping others, efforts behind the scenes that make her everyday hero.

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