After more than seven years of dedicated service to Desert View Hospital, the facility’s Director of Environmental Services is preparing to say farewell to her coworkers this week as she heads into retirement.
Sandra Douglass has been employed as a manager at the hospital since before the 25-bed facility opened its doors in 2006. She and her staff are responsible for the care and cleanliness of the facility.
“We’re responsible for making sure the hospital is clean; we’re responsible for the laundry and making sure all the linen is done, making sure everything is picked up. And we try to make sure the floors are done, the carpets are done, everybody has paper towels and toilet paper, keeping the dust down, cleaning the rooms when the patients leave, just making sure everyone is happy when they walk through that door,” Douglass said.
Each day the hospital’s 13 bathrooms and 25 inpatient suites are cleaned, garbage is collected throughout the facility, carpeted floors are vacuumed, and tiled floors are mopped, according to a statement fro the hospital about the department. When patients are discharged, housekeeping staff also must terminally clean the patient’s room – meaning every aspect of the room is cleaned from top to bottom, from the blinds to the televisions to the linens and the floors.
Additionally, the Operating Room is terminally cleaned every 24 hours during the week as well.
“I must say I am very proud of all my staff, everyone works extremely hard every day,” Douglass said. “I am very lucky and happy that I have been able to hire a great group of people. They take pride in what they do, and they do a great job.”
Douglass’s employment with the medical facility began after she and a friend stopped by a job fair exhibiting positions at the soon to open hospital in 2006.
“It was a fluke really. They had a job fair and a girlfriend of mine said let’s go put our applications in and I thought OK,” Douglass explained. “I owned my own business out here, a cleaning service, and I thought well this would be a good opportunity because I had always been self employed, and it went from there. And I just love it. Everyone here is just wonderful. I’ve never had to be a boss, so it was like trial and error, but I love it and it’s just been wonderful. I have a wonderful crew that works with me, its just been great.”
One of the tasks Douglass said she has enjoyed most in her position was doing the laundry. The manager explained it was a real learning experience for her and she enjoyed the challenge of getting all the linens done for an entire facility in one day.
The Environmental Services Department typically cleans 300 to 400 pounds of laundry each day in the Summer and up to 400 to 600 pounds in the winter.
In addition to her duties with the Environmental Service Department, Douglass said at times she had to lend a hand to other departments, including the maintenance department as well.
“You kind of had to be a maintenance man at times, because our maintenance guy needed assistance sometimes so I learned to put paper towel containers on the wall, I learned how to Spackle, I learned how to patch holes, which is awesome because I didn’t know those things. And I already knew how to strip and wax floors, so I could do that, but I learned so much, it was just amazing,” she said.
Although Douglass said the job could be very demanding, it was rewarding when she knew patients didn’t have to worry about whether or not their rooms were clean while they tried to get better.
“Our jobs are hard. It’s worth it though when a patient or visitor enters the doors of DVH and they can say ‘wow, this place is really clean.’ They know that their loved ones can feel safe by having a clean bed and bathroom with clean sheets. It makes them happy, and that makes us happy.”
During a party thrown in Douglass’s honor last week at the hospital, coworkers and supervisors said Douglass was a wonderful employee to work with, stating her easy-going, hardworking personality would be greatly missed around the halls of the facility.
“People always comment on the cleanliness of the hospital, and that’s directly tied to Sandra and her staff and the hard work they put in,” Director of Marketing Meagan Kowalski said.
“She was a great leader, reliable, she was always here, she was teachable, she would do what ever was asked,” Randy Cuff, Assistant Administrator to the hospital said. “She was always positive always had a smile on her face and she was organized and very responsible. She was here from the beginning and shes always been a great leader and she treated her staff the way they should be treated.”
Douglass was presented with a plaque for her dedicated service to the hospital as well as card thanking her for her hard work over the years from the hospital’s owner, Rural Health Group, and the hospital administration.
She became emotional as she explained to fellow coworkers how much working with them had meant to her and how much she was going to miss them when she retires at the end of this week
“I’m going to miss everybody. A few of us have been together since before the doors opened, and it’s just been wonderful. I love Desert View Hospital. I’ve met a lot of great people here,” she added in a statement after the party.
The first thing she wants to do with her new free time is visit with her grandchildren. Once she has had the chance to visit with her family, Douglass explained she wants to become a volunteer with a respite service.
“Working in a hospital you see these sick people and their caregivers who are tired and burnt out and I thought respite care would be something good to go into to give some relief to the people who take care of their loved ones,” She said. “It’s hard.”