Blackwell keeps the C.A.R.E. building sparking clean

Published 1:02 pm Thursday, April 8, 2021

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Front line workers in hospitals are saving lives every day. At VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital (VCU Health CMH) the environmental services team is hard at work around the clock cleaning the hospital and preventing the spread of infection; keeping patients, visitors and employees safe. Many of them have been employed at VCU Health CMH for more than a decade. Get to know three environmental services team members and see the hospital through their eyes.

Hospital EVS Tech

Linda Wilkins is an EVS Tech on dayshift. She lives in Meredithville and has worked at VCU Health CMH for 16 years. Before coming to the hospital, she worked at Perdue in Emporia. She started out in laundry at the old hospital location on Buena Vista Circle and has seen a lot of change over the years. Her duties consist of cleaning patient rooms, bathrooms, emptying trash, dusting and training new hires. If she finishes her work early, she’ll find another coworker and help them finish theirs. Linda knows what she does is important for patients and staff because they rely on her to feel safe and provide a clean environment.

“If I was the patient, I would want my room fresh,” she explained.

The pandemic has made everything more complicated, but Wilkins has built confidence and received encouragement from her leaders.

“We gear up to protect ourselves. It was scary at first, but once you get used to it, it’s easy,” Wilkins said.

They wait two hours after a COVID patient has been discharged before going in the room to clean it. Then they wear gloves, N-95 masks, gowns, booties, and a face shield to protect themselves while cleaning COVID rooms. It can take up to two hours to pull everything out and strip the room to prepare it for the next patient.

Wilkins appreciates her flexible work schedule.

“We have an awesome supervisor and boss,” she said. “They work with you when you want time off or need to go to a doctor’s appointment.”

When Wilkins is not working, she loves spending time with her four grandkids. She has two that live with her and two in Petersburg.

Hospital EVS Supervisor

Bertha Evans is an EVS Supervisor who also works the first shift. She resides in South Hill and has been employed at VCU Health CMH for 20 years. She worked at the Days Inn prior to working at the hospital. Her favorite part of her job is her coworkers. She has built friendships over the years and everyone helps each other out. As a supervisor, she is more of a floater and fills in when they are short on help or have a lot of discharged patients whose rooms need disinfecting.

Evans is empathetic toward patients.

“I know they’re not well, so I try to talk to them and make them feel better while I’m there,” she said. “My job is important because I make them feel safe.” The pandemic has taught her to take it one day at a time. “The hospital does a great job – they go above and beyond to help people,” she said.

Bertha loves spending time with her 3-year-old granddaughter who lives with her, along with a son and daughter. Two additional sons also live in South Hill.

C.A.R.E. Building EVS Tech

Hazel Blackwell is an EVS Tech in the C.A.R.E. Building who works the second shift. A resident of Lunenburg County, she’s worked at VCU Health CMH for 11 years and worked at the Marlboro plant before accepting this job. She loves the friendly people she works with in the C.A.R.E. Building. They tell her how much they appreciate her every day. She and three other people are responsible for cleaning the 66,000 square foot facility each evening. A night owl, Blackwell prefers to work the evening shift. She understands the importance of disinfecting all the high-touch surfaces, like the doorknobs and hand sanitizer dispensers, for patients and hospital staff. Because she isn’t cleaning COVID patient rooms, the only protective equipment she wears is a mask.

Blackwell is very proud of her two sons she raised as a single parent. One lives with her and the other is in Maryland with her 5-year-old grandson. She enjoys spending time with her sisters in Myrtle Beach and looks forward to vacationing there once the pandemic is over.

VCU Health CMH is thankful for all the caring, compassionate environmental services staff. Their dedication to the community is evident in their years of service.