More Hidden Heroes

April 2, 2020 4:38 p.m.

TPM Reader TP follows up on JR’s thoughts …

Applauding TPM Reader JR’s thoughts, and wish to add my own.

I have spent over half of my career in the facilities management side of a half dozen major medical centers. This meant that my closest colleagues were the housekeepers, laundry staff, pest controllers, plumbers, HVAC specialists, electricians, and industrial hygienists, with infection control staff a constant presence in everything we did.

These are the staff that are first into the room for blood spills, and terminal cleaning no matter what the previous patient suffered and/or died from. They collect hazardous waste, no matter what that waste contains. They are the ones who collect and clean linens and laundry, whether the patient had pneumonia or bed bugs.

They are the ones who respond and clean up when there’s a plumbing leak, whether it’s clean water, or because someone tried to flush something they shouldn’t.

They are the ones who have to deal with air filtration systems, even and especially when those systems involve negative pressure isolation rooms. As they repair those systems in order to protect everyone else from airborne pathogens (like COVID-19), they themselves are at risk.

Each of these people provide the systems that allow our healthcare providers to function in a safer environment. They, too, require Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), in order to both do their jobs safely, and to avoid spreading pathogens to others. Our healthcare providers cannot do their jobs safely without the support of these back-of-house employees.

Failing to provide full support and protection to them is as egregious a failure as failing to provide the same to our front-line providers. There is no excuse for where we are. Period.

Thank you for your staff’s and your efforts to bring clarity and light to our political situation. Even as I despair sometimes, TPM’s content, writing, and readers’ comments go far in helping my hang on to my sanity, perspective, and resolve.

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