Hidden heroes: EVS team works quietly on the front lines to protect care teams, patients

April 28, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

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In the world of COVID-19, the phrase “front line” often brings to mind first responders, nurses and providers working to save and heal patients afflicted with novel coronavirus. But there’s another team of heroes who play a quiet but crucial role on the front lines, working diligently and continuously to clean and sanitize the environment, prevent the spread of disease and protect the clinical staff who are caring for patients.

Members of Environmental Services work around the clock to make sure all areas of the main medical campus are clean, safe and functional.

‘Stepping up to the plate’

While there are fewer offices and clinics to clean due to temporary closures and employees working from home, the intensity of the work for EVS has increased.

EVS employees are a constant presence in patient care areas, carefully following protocols outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Michigan Medicine’s Infection Prevention and Epidemiology Department to properly sanitize equipment and surfaces.

“Our team is always working hard to make sure the environment is safe,” said Maurits Hughes, director of Logistics and Support Services at Michigan Medicine. “In addition to discharge cleaning after COVID-19 and other patients are released, our workers are disinfecting lounge spaces, restrooms and all of the support areas staff need to access in order to provide care.”

Frequent cleaning of nursing stations on the intensive care units includes sanitizing computers, Pyxis machines, medicine rooms and more.

“What I really admire,” said Hughes, “is the commitment the workers have had. Many of them have been in the organization for years, some of them have been new hires and some of them are temps.

“They’re all stepping up to the plate, working in a variety of spaces, donning and doffing PPE appropriately, and wanting to provide support to clinical staff where it’s needed,” he said.

Hughes said staffing has been a challenge due to the number of call-outs during the pandemic, and offered words of gratitude for those who tirelessly come to work every day.

“I truly admire those who come to work and make it a point to help,” said Hughes, who noted that many staff members step in and work the extra hours necessary to support the team when there are gaps in the schedule. “They feel like they’re out here helping to save lives.”

And, without a doubt, they are.

“I know it’s tough for everyone here,” Hughes said. “We’re dealing with an unknown and, at the same time, we know this is a time for us to step up and really dig deep to support this organization and the residents of our area to provide the highest quality care we can for our patients.”


Recently, EVS members received notes of gratitude from their colleagues for the work they are performing at Michigan Medicine. Here is just a sampling of those messages:

Guale Tiruneh: “Guale, you always go above and beyond. You always complete your work in a timely manner and are available for specific unit needs. You are very much appreciated for your hard work and wonderful attitude.”

Chanell Shaw: “You come in daily with a great big smile and fantastic attitude! You put your hard work and dedication into all your patients, family members and staff. Keep up the great work!”

Christopher Swatsenbarg: “Right now, everybody at Michigan Medicine is standing, but Christopher, you stand out! You are truly an asset to this team, and are very much appreciated!”

Terrance Smith: “Terrance, you come in EVERY Day with a huge smile and great attitude. You keep going the extra mile for all of us.”

Dejon Brown: “Dejon always has a good attitude, and work ethic. He’s a great worker and team player and deserves kudos for what he does!”

Shaneya Brown: “What I noticed about Shaneya is that she is very thorough with her work and I have never heard her complain. She responds to requests promptly, and does a great job. She is an asset to her department and this hospital as a whole.”

Danny Sinclair: “Danny, you absolutely made my day! You didn’t know me but you took the initiative to lend a hand and go above and beyond. I appreciate you and your kindness so very much. Thank you!”

Moussa Issa: “Thanks so much for your hard work.  We really appreciate you and want you to know that your effort does not go unnoticed.”

Command Center EVS team: “I wanted to take the time to point out that our EVS attention to the Hospital Command Center has been excellent. I have mostly worked with Briana, Kyle and Travis who are friendly, attentive and committed to keep the room clean. They check in regularly and ask if we need anything. Thank you!”

Project team 3rd shift, Mott: “The third shift floor project team works very well and makes sure all projects are completed. I feel the team doesn’t get the praise they deserve for doing a job well done throughout Mott.”