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Dean keeps Danville hospital rooms clean

Working as an environmental service technician, Teresa Dean has a huge responsibility at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center. She says it’s a big title, but she would be just as content being known as a cleaner in the “housekeeping” department.

Robin Hart/robin.hart@amnews.com
Teresa Dean cleans and disintects each patient’s room everyday on the third floor and sometimes must wear protective gowns and gloves for the patient’s protection against infections, as well as her own protection.

But Teresa is much more than someone who dusts patients’ blinds and hauls out their trash. She is responsible in helping to keep the hospital clean and sanitized as much as possible.

For 22 years, Teresa has been cleaning EMRMC and she really enjoys her job. Normally, you can spot Teresa and her cart of cleaning supplies on the third floor, where she comes in at 7 a.m. and leaves around 3:30 p.m. and works every other weekend.

She says she has always loved to clean. Even as a young girl, Teresa enjoyed washing her family’s dishes and keeping their home nice and tidy. “That’s just me,” Teresa says.

Keeping on a daily schedule helps Teresa be efficient and get more tasks completed on time, she says, while mopping the floor of visitors waiting area early one morning. She wipes down side tables and telephones with disinfectant, takes out trash and straightens up old magazines.

She then heads to any number of the 20 patient rooms on the floor where she does the same routine, plus fills up supplies of toilet paper, tissue and hand sanitizer. She cleans the commode and shower. And if the patient feels up to it, she easily strikes up a quick conversation. “I try to make it better for them,” Teresa says.

Some patients are extremely susceptible to infection or they may have a contagious disease, Teresa says. In those cases, she adheres to the hospital’s safety rules and slips into a disposable plastic gown, snaps on gloves and covers her mouth and nose with a mask before entering the room to clean it.

Having a fresh, clean room every day is sort of like taking a bath, Teresa says. “It just makes you feel better.”

Along with cleaning the waiting area and patient rooms, Teresa also disinfects and wipes down the nurses’ stations and other public and side areas on the floor, including the restrooms and hallways. If there’s time, Teresa also “shines up the kick plates” on all of the doors.

Then, around 1 p.m., Teresa gets busier. That’s when most patients begin being discharged and she deep cleans the empty rooms.

She strips off the dirty bed linens and disinfects the mattresses, then makes up the bed with fresh sheets, blankets and pillows. All the bed rails are thoroughly wiped down; medical equipment, computers and keyboards are disinfected, blinds are dusted, TVs and bathrooms are sanitized and boxes of used needles are disposed of and replaced. Teresa makes sure the staff and visitors will have plenty of gloves and gowns available in the room. Then as she leaves, Teresa closes the door, disinfects the door knob and tapes the door shut with bright green tape that has the word “CLEAN,” signifying the room is ready for the next patient.