If we do our job well, we don't have to be afraid
Healthcare Innovation COVID-19

Preventing the spread of COVID-19 in hospitals: “If we do our job well, we don't have to be afraid of anything”

Monday, 15 June 2020

Cleaning strict isolation rooms in a hospital is not meant for everyone. For Shudrianny, Siane and Shuraini it is a daily routine in the Canisius Wilhelmina Hospital (CWZ) in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. The virus can’t win from these three ladies.

Cleaning in times of Covid-19

The three cleaners have been the cleaning team for years at the Nijmegen hospital. They are responsible for the final cleaning of so-called isolation rooms: the rooms where patients have been infected with infectious bacteria or viruses. “At the moment, these are mainly corona chambers: rooms where patients infected with coronavirus have been located,” says Shudrianny. “In principle, we are only responsible for the final cleaning, so if the patients have already left. Then we make sure the rooms are clean and safe for the next patient. ”

Facing the reality

Normally, their colleagues take care of the interim cleaning, but in exceptional cases the three flex workers are also sometimes asked to perform a cleaning round in the meantime. If the patient is still in the room. “That is tough to see someone lying like this. But it also provides extra motivation. To do your job extra well for them and to do extra cleaning. So that they get rid of it as soon as possible and so that they cannot infect anyone else. ”

Cleaning and disinfection

At the beginning of the corona crisis, sometimes fifty to sixty corona chambers had to be disinfected. The flex team was therefore greatly expanded to be able to do this. But how do you disinfect a room? “We wear a mask, apron, gloves, safety glasses, hospital clogs. We must of course protect ourselves well, ”explains Siane.

“Once in the room, we first clean up all the stuff, including the bed linen and the (shower) curtains. Then we can clean and disinfect everything and then we furnish it again with clean stuff. When you are done, take off the protective clothing in the room, close all pockets, spray everything and disinfect the mop handle. Only then can you leave the room. On average, you spend about 25 to 30 minutes on a room. ”

Once they are cleaning a room, they are not allowed to leave the room in between. This is to prevent further spread. “You immediately take the items you need for work with you. Think of disinfection wipes, a disinfection spray, disposable mops and hermetically sealed bags. The work trolley remains in the hallway and we put it directly at the door of the room. ”

"In the beginning it was a bit of a swallow, especially because of all the news about and attention to the corona virus"

Not afraid of COVID-19

How are the ladies themselves under the current situation? Are they ever afraid during work? Shudrianny: “In the beginning it was a bit of a swallow, especially because of all the news about and attention to the corona virus. But we have been doing this work for a long time and are therefore used to working in an environment with dangerous viruses or bacteria. If we do our job well, we don't have to be afraid of anything. ”

"It is also difficult if we are constantly afraid," Siane adds. “We enter a strict isolation room every day. It wouldn't make the job any better or more fun… ”

Shuraini: “We were trained for this, so we know exactly what we should and shouldn't do. If you follow the protocol, you will be fine. If it is not exactly clear, we can always ask questions to our supervisors or the nursing staff. While working we try to be very level-headed and not to rush. We just have to take the time to do the work as well as possible. Of course you don't want to miss a bit. Not for myself, but not for the next patient to be admitted to that room. I always think about that. I want to do my job well. So that I stay healthy myself, so that I do not infect the people around me and so that the next patient in a safe and clean room does not become infected. ”

“We are confident, so trust us too”

The cleaning workers laugh at the question whether their family and friends are also afraid. “Yes, they are very concerned. We hear that every day! ”Says Siane. “I am constantly asked whether I am paying close attention, whether I am healthy and whether I am protecting myself well. Then I always say: as long as I keep the protocol, I will be fine. We trust it, so trust us too. ”

More appreciation

The atmosphere is pleasant, the three ladies say. “That's nice, because then you don't think as much about the difficult situation we're in. It then becomes less loaded. ” There is a bit more tension in the air in the rest of the hospital. Shudrianny: “The hospital employees are more irritated or tense than usual. That is not surprising. Fortunately, everyone pays close attention to each other and we address each other. Is it still going well? Can anyone still do the work? And do you stick to a meter and a half away? That's nice. We also notice that we as cleaners are now more appreciated. ”

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