Keeping a Hospital Clean During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Disinfecting is more important than ever during COVID-19 crisis

Does it seem difficult to keep your home clean and safe during the coronavirus crisis? Just imagine the job of cleaning a 173-bed hospital! As the environmental services (EVS) supervisor at Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista, Teresa Salinas takes cleanliness to heart.

She and her team of 50 hard-working EVS staff are in charge of cleaning and disinfecting the hospital, which includes removing waste, garbage and soiled linen. It’s a big job made even bigger due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our goal is to make sure that when patients are here, they have a clean, disinfected room so their stay can be as comfortable as possible,” says Salinas. “We want them to be able to focus on healing, not worrying about whether their environment is safe and clean.”

“It’s hard work, and it’s stressful. But we have a mission and that’s why we are here.” 

Walls and floors are thoroughly cleaned after every patient is discharged, and an ultraviolet light scan reveals any lingering bacteria that needs to be disinfected. As an extra precaution to combat COVID-19, disposable curtains are now being used to cut down on possible contamination and unwanted germs. Like nurses and other frontline clinical staff, many EVS staff clean up and change their clothes before heading home to loved ones, to protect their own families.

“It’s hard work, and it’s stressful,” says Salinas. “But we have a mission and that’s why we are here.” 

Support from the community helps, like the regular food and supply donations and the recent show of camaraderie from San Diego fire and law enforcement. And then there are the COVID-19 patient discharges, when staff line the halls (at proper distance) to cheer on the recently recovered.

“It’s incredibly moving to participate in the send-off,” says Salinas. “They are wheeled down a hallway lined with nurses, doctors and staff, all of us clapping and smiling as they are going by.” 

“It’s so uplifting to experience that during this time of crisis.”

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