Unsung heroes share stories from front lines of COVID-19 pandemic

Cleaning services, spiritual care, support patients and hospital functions
Unsung heroes share stories from front lines of COVID-19 pandemic
Posted at 1:13 AM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 03:13:23-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — It's been around a year since COVID-19 first hit the United States, and as we work to rebound from the pandemic, health care workers have been hailed as heroes. The people who typically come to mind may be doctors or nurses, but inside a hospital, there are many different roles working behind the scenes to keep the facility running.

One of those people is Claudia Garcia. She's worked as an environmental services attendant at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services for eight months. Her responsibility is to clean the hospital rooms, including those reserved for COVID-19 patients. "We try to do our best, and sometimes it's a little scary to come into a room, especially after we know that it is in fact a COVID room," said Garcia.

"We take care of the hospital... We just sanitize everything. Everything that anybody can touch."
Claudia Garcia

Garcia said after they disinfect a room, they bring in ultraviolet light technology to finish the cleaning. "We're actually out here, I mean, I don't want to say saving lives, but disinfecting a doorknob where somebody can come in and then touch their face. You know, those are the little things that we do, that maybe, I don't want to say people take for granted, but sometimes it can be, or seem that way, for some of us that are housekeepers," said Garcia.

Meanwhile, spiritual care has greatly changed at Penrose-St. Francis as a result of the pandemic. "First of all, the mask. You can't read people's expressions the way you could before. But probably, the biggest thing is families can't be with their loved ones... Chaplains are more important now than ever before, because families feel a sense of peace when they can be there, when they can just be present. If they know that there's a chaplain by the bedside of their loved one, it makes all the difference in the world," said the Director of Mission and Ministry at Penrose-St. Francis, Timothy Corbley.

"I was praying with this patient, and housekeeping came in and stopped and prayed with us."
Timothy Corbley

Corbley said there are nine chaplains at Penrose-St. Francis currently. He said their role gives patients a bit of peace during what could be the end of their lives. "It is the greatest privilege I could ever imagine... To make sure that person is not alone. We can help that one person at that one time, and we can make their burden a little lighter," said Corbley.

Other departments filled with unsung heroes at Penrose-St. Francis include nutrition services, and sterile processing.