‘I love what I do’ Hospital housekeepers are the unsung heroes of the pandemic

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – During a briefing Wednesday, Dr. Alex Garza, the incident commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, highlighted hospital housekeepers as unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cristine Perry of SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital is a shining example.    

Housekeepers’ roles have greatly expanded during the pandemic and not only in terms of the very deep cleaning they give patient rooms day after day. They’re filling in as something patients need more than ever: visitors. 

“I love what I do,” Perry said.  

Her hands clean just about every inch of 24 rooms every day. Perry wipes everything down with virus-killing cleaners and, just as importantly to her, a touch of love. 

“We’re all a family,” Perry said. “It takes a unit to do everything. It isn’t just Cristine Perry. It’s the whole unit: the whole housekeeping, the hospital, the doctors, the nurses, the patients themselves. We’ve got to make sure they get healed and get out of here.” 

She’s part of a 120-member housekeeping team responsible for the hospital’s 300 rooms. All have been full throughout the pandemic, her supervisor said.   

So, most often, Perry does her job with a patient in the room.   With no outside visitors allowed she considers herself family for patients. She visits as she works and works hard because her biggest reward is seeing a patient go home. 

“As long as we have patients who are sick, not even just with COVID; cancer, anything. It makes me feel 100 percent because I made sure that patient’s room was always clean…I love you all,” Perry said.   

Perry has been infected with COVID herself but said that made her more committed to her job, not less. She recovered, got through her quarantine, and went right back to work as housekeeper and hero. 

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