A Day in the Life: Environmental Services

Arnita Hubbard cleans the bedrooms where the doctors sleep

Arnita Hubbard cleans the bedrooms where the doctors sleep

The doctors’ quarters at Akron Children’s Hospital are quiet when housekeeper Arnita Hubbard arrives at 7 a.m. Hubbard makes sure the area is clean and tidy as part of her duties for the hospital’s Environmental Services department.

“The doctors can have very stressful days and I want to make sure the room where they relax is nice for them,” said Hubbard.

The area, a large room with a kitchen, couches, exercise equipment and a TV, is where physicians relax between shifts or when they have a break in a particularly long shift.

Hubbard moves around the room cleaning counter tops and picking up newspapers while chatting with the handful of doctors sitting nearby. “The doctors are all so nice here at Children’s,” said Hubbard, a 37-year employee. “They are very busy people but they are also very kind.”

Johnny Greathouse starts his day by checking on the hospital's trash compactorIn another area of the hospital, housekeeper John Greathouse starts his day by checking on the hospital’s trash compactor.

He presses a button and the compactor roars to life. This is the first of what will be multiple visits today to the compactor.

As Greathouse heads to his first stop, the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), he greets a young patient in the hallway who’s practicing walking with crutches.

“What I like most about this job are the kids,” he said. “No matter how difficult they have it, they seem to always have a smile on their faces.”

Greathouse will visit most areas of the hospital at least twice a day, making stops back at the compactor when his trash bin is filled.

Julie St. Jean works as a floater in Environmental Services, which means she can work any shift and tackle whatever duties are needed.

St. Jean stops in the Environmental Services office and gets her assignment for the day.

Julie St. Jean cleans a patient room like her son was going to use it.

Julie St. Jean cleans a patient room as if her son was going to use it.

St. Jean, who has worked for the hospital for five years, grabs a pager and a cart filled with cleaning supplies and heads to a patient room on the fifth floor.

A child has just been discharged from the room, and it needs to be readied for the next patient.

“I always clean a room like I would want it cleaned if my son was going to use it,” said St. Jean, the mother of a 5-year-old.

Back in the doctor’s quarters, Hubbard is busy cleaning the bedrooms where the doctors sleep.  There are 16 small rooms, each with a bed or bunk beds and a private bath. Hubbard changes the sheets on all the beds and cleans the bathrooms.

By now it’s 10:30 a.m., and it’s time for the first of Greathouse’s five daily visits to collect the trash from the cafeteria.

“We have a lot of parents who eat their meals in the cafeteria,” he said. “It’s important that the area stays clean and looks welcoming to them.”

Meanwhile, Hubbard has finished cleaning the doctor’s quarters and moves onto the family room of the Reinberger Family Center.

“This is such a wonderful area for the families to relax and talk to each other,” she said. The center offers an area for the families to nap, take a shower, have a snack and connect with one another.

Arnita Hubbard cleans the Reinberger Family CenterHubbard dusts and vacuums the main room and then heads back to the sleeping area of the center.  She makes sure the beds in the private rooms all have fresh linen, then cleans the bathrooms.

Once she’s finished in the sleeping area, she moves onto the rooms set aside for the nursing mothers.

Many of the parents greet Hubbard as she moves around the center.

“You have to be a good listener in this job,” said Hubbard. “The parents can be going through a difficult time and sometimes they just need someone to listen to them.  The people I work with call me ‘Mother Hubbard’ because I try to treat everyone kindly like they are my children.”

Finishing up his shift, Greathouse takes his last load of trash to the compactor before heading home for the day. He spent most of his working life at Columbia Gas in West Virginia, but true love brought him to the Akron area.

“My wife, Vikki, and I dated in West Virgina when we were teenagers,” he said.  “Thirty-seven years after we broke up I contacted her. We started dating again and then got married. She lived in this area so I relocated. It was Vikki who encouraged me to look for a job with the hospital.”

Susan Miller of Pathology jokes with Johnny Greathouse in the cafeteria

Susan Miller of Pathology jokes with Johnny Greathouse in the cafeteria

Greathouse has worked in Environmental Services for nearly eight years.

St. Jean checks back in with the Environmental Services office and they send her to clean “stay-over” rooms.  A stayover is when the patient will be in the room while it’s being cleaned.

“Some of the patients, especially the children receiving bone marrow transplants, can be here for awhile,” said St. Jean. “I really get to know some of the families, and it’s not unusual for them to request that I clean their room.”

Before Hubbard ‘s shift ends, she visits the doctor’s quarters and makes another stop in the Reinberger Family Center to make sure both areas are clean.

“I really enjoy working at the hospital,” she said. “Whenever anyone asks where I work, I tell them I work at the place where miracles happen.”

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