The medical heroes working behind the scenes

Here's how we're honoring environmental service workers this month

HOUSTON – Not all heroes wear scrubs. The Harris Health Systems comprises of doctors, nurses, and frontline workers behind the scenes.

Ben Taub Hospital has a team of 165 workers that make up Environmental Services. Along with doctors and nurses, these workers have put their own health on the line throughout the pandemic to keep patient rooms and public spaces spic and span.

Peggy Turpin is the Environmental Services Operations Manager for Ben Taub. Turpin said knowing how to sanitize trauma units has helped prepare the staff for handling COVID-19.

“What we call isolation cleaning was already a key part of what happens at our trauma hospital and throughout the Harris Health System,” Turpin said. “Those standards of practice of cleaning were already in place, it was just magnified.”

Vivian Williams has worked in Environmental Services at Ben Taub for more than eight years. Williams said it takes her 30 minutes to an hour to clean patient rooms and make sure the space is safe for staff and the next patient. Her job also consists of mopping floors, wiping down high-touch areas, and emptying the trash.

“It’s doing more than we usually do, more than once or twice a day,” she said. “We might have to do it three times a day to make sure that area is clean.”

Williams said even though she’s cleaning more because of COVID-19, she loves what she does. She’s grateful some of the unsung hospital heroes are receiving recognition too as KPRC 2 honors heroes in our community throughout the month of May.

“We have housekeepers that should be appreciated also because they are putting themselves in jeopardy as well as the doctors and nurses, because we’re going into the same area,” Williams said.

Turpin said everyone, including those behind the scenes, supported each other and work together as a team.

“Everybody had to rise to the occasion so I can’t say one department was more important than the other. It was really the partnership that made it work,” Turpin said.