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Unsung heroes fighting COVID-19: Hospital disinfecting staff

BAYTOWN, Texas – Amidst the pandemic, many are quick to think of doctors and nurses when giving credit to those on the healthcare frontlines. However, perhaps one of the most important roles is to make sure the hospital environment is a clean and safe one.

Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital Environmental Services Supervisor Mary Waller said her team works day and night cleaning rooms, to keep people safe and healthy. Despite the risk that exists when dealing with COVID-19, first responders make a choice to serve.

“It’s our job to make sure that we’re ready,” Waller said.

While patients fill hospital beds, what many may not see are the hands that make that possible.

“It never stops. That’s what we do. That’s what our job is: we clean,” Waller said.

As the Environmental Services Supervisor at Houston Methodist Baytown, she has worked her way up now leading a team of 80 hospital staff members who all work to disinfect. They know and work every inch of the hospital.

“Every day. Every hour of the day 24 hours a day. The hospital is open 24/7 -- it never closes, and we know,” Waller laughed. “Making sure that everything is disinfected properly,” Waller said.

Despite the risk, Waller and her team work practically all of their 8-hour (minimum) shift to disinfect rooms quickly, consistently and thoroughly, in accordance with CDC and hospital standards. Waller said they are cleaning every hour. The quality of their cleaning is no different whether the patient in the room has COVID-19 or not, but the pressure is on.

“We go into COVID rooms every day just like nurses, PA’s, doctors; we’re in these rooms as well,” Waller said.

Waller is a mother of three and also a grandmother. Her family is proud of the work their loved one has done to keep people safe. Waller, though, was quick to give credit to those who work under her supervision.

“My team is fantastic. I couldn’t do my job without this team,” Waller said.

Just like doctors and nurses, she said the team she supervises is essential and the team is a tough one.

“Those days that are hard, we have to do our job still,” Waller.

These heroes, no doubt, save lives.

“Not just environmental services, but our nurses and doctors -- everybody. We’re all a team and our goal is to keep our patients safe,” Waller said.