Environmental Services Provides COVID-19 Protection to Health First’s Caregivers, Patients

By  //  May 1, 2020

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Health First’s Chester Robinson and his teams ensure every inch of a patient care room is cleaned and inspected

Tom Robinson, an environmental services lead with Sodexo Healthcare at Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center, he and his team represent the first line of defense charged with ensuring a sterile and safe environment for our patients and caregivers. (Health First image)

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – From the time the invisible COVID-19 menace first crossed our shores, the brave men and women of America’s healthcare systems have waged the life and death battle against a new enemy.

Rightfully celebrated and honored as the “front lines,” hospital caregivers and first responders have delivered a heroic level of steady and calm care – saving lives and helping to minimize the spread of COVID-19 across our communities.

But if those healthcare workers represent the front lines of the battle, Health First’s Chester Robinson represents the “Red Line,” as in …“Nothing is getting past us to impact the caregivers and the people we are charged with caring for.”

Tom Robinson, an environmental services lead with Sodexo Healthcare at Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center, he and his team represent the first line of defense charged with ensuring a sterile and safe environment for our patients and caregivers.

“We understand why we’re here, what we do and who we do it for,” said Robinson, who has served the healthcare field for more than two decades.

“I have seen HIV/AIDS, SARS, traditional flu outbreaks, and now this coronavirus and, in a way, although it is an unknown and frightening new illness, we still go about our work in pretty much the same way we would any other time.”

That means Robinson and his teams ensure every inch of a patient care room is cleaned and inspected before, during and after a patient is discharged.

“When we began planning for this early in the process, I was one of the first to volunteer to work in some of the critical care units where our coronavirus patients would be. I felt very good about our level of preparedness, because we already use the highest level and standard of care to the areas we sterilize.

“I have a family and kids that I go home to every day, and so I needed to be just as confident in what we do. I think some of our team members were understandably a little hesitant to begin with, but once I stepped up and said, ‘Put me in,’ more of our team developed a similar comfort level. I wanted to lead by example, and once everyone saw that level of confidence and comfort, more began to quickly follow my lead.”

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Robinson said that while the team’s processes and level of care and dedication to thoroughly sterilizing each patient unit was primarily unchanged, there was one area that has changed.

“We had to spend more time on ourselves,” Robinson said. “To ensure we could continue doing our jobs protecting others, we had to make sure WE were protected.”

As such, environmental services staff spent more time slowly donning their personal protective gear, inspecting and assisting one another, double-layering gloves, as well as spending more time inspecting patient units by utilizing black-light technology to identify even the smallest trace of otherwise invisible contaminant, in addition to the standard high-powered cleaning and sterilization agents employed in the healthcare environment.

“We’ve heard the term ‘War Time’ used quite a bit during this virus. You can’t really fight a war unless you’re prepared in advance,” Robinson said.

“I like to think that our patients and caregivers can feel confident that they are receiving the best care – and doing their very best providing that care – in the safest environment possible. It starts and ends with us.”

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