Housekeeping staff has a pivotal role in protecting patients, hospital colleagues

April – May, 2020

Rising to the Call
April 7, 2020

Caprisha Lacy has been part of the environmental service team at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which is part of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, since December. Lacy is among the team members who are cleaning rooms where patients with COVID-19 have gotten care.


Before one of her recent shifts, she talked to Catholic Health World's Lisa Eisenhauer about being in a front-line role in helping to fight the pandemic. Here, in her own words, she describes how COVID-19 has changed her job duties and the pride she takes in her work:

In my job we have to thoroughly clean the rooms. For example, with the COVID positive rooms, we have to wipe everything down, including the walls, the ceiling, the cords from the machines. And with the linen, like the bed sheets and the clothes that patients had on in the hospital, all of those go inside a plastic bag, and then go inside of yellow bags to get washed separately, because it's basically biohazard. And everything that's inside the powder room, all of it goes into a biohazard bag. All of it goes in the trash.

It's pretty different than before COVID, because you have to make sure. I would rather stay in those rooms a longer time, because of the thing that's going on, just to make sure that everything is how it's supposed to be, completely cleaned for the next person. It's best to clean those rooms to a T.

With the COVID patients, once they're discharged and they're out of the room, we have to wait an hour before we can go in the room and clean it.

It takes probably about 45 minutes to 50 minutes, just to make sure that the room is completely clean. We use Virex 256 to kill the bacteria and stuff inside the room.

When doing this type of cleaning, we have to be in our personal protective equipment. We have to have our gloves and our gown that we put on over our scrubs. We have to have goggles, and we have to have face masks. We're pretty geared up, but you can wear the foot booties for your shoes, because we have to mop the floor. I decided to wear those. I still wipe my shoes off with bleach wipes.

I used to do surgical rooms at first, before my supervisor asked me to help him with the COVID-19 patients.

We can't go home without taking a shower after doing those types of rooms. Some areas, they don't have showers. So once we do those rooms, we have to completely take the contaminated shrubs off that we had on when we were doing the room, put them in a separate bag, and put it in a laundry chute, and then put on new scrubs, and go walk, and take your shower.

Before we even can enter the hospital, we have to be screened, as far as our temperature. They're going to ask about, "Have you been feeling any symptoms or anything?" They're trying to make sure we're good. At home, I make sure I wash my hands. I make sure I hand sanitize. I'm pretty cautious at all times.
I haven't gotten any information about any of my friends and family being sick. I have a big family, so for some people I may not know.

It's very good that the hospital doesn't turn anyone away, because nowadays some people will actually turn you away. I wouldn't want nobody to turn me away if I really needed help.

It feels amazing to be honest, to be called a hero because I always wanted to do something big in my life to help people, because I've always been that type of person. I've always helped people, whether they need it or not. It's just something that my mother taught me.

I would like the public to know that I am doing everything it is in my power that I can do to help out.

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