July 9, 2020

Behind-the-scenes heroes

Every day and night Kaiser Permanente employees work to support front-line staff and keep patients, members, and each other healthy and safe.

Environmental services employees have intensified their routines.

Kaiser Permanente’s physicians, nurses, and front-line staff have delivered unfaltering care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and shelter-in-place orders. Their dedication continues as we gradually welcome our members and patients back into our facilities while remaining prepared to manage future surges.

Behind the scenes, tens of thousands of other Kaiser Permanente employees are working day and night to support them. From information technology to pharmacy, laboratory services, and facilities, the first priority for everyone at Kaiser Permanente is the health and safety of our members, patients, and staff.

Starring in a supporting role

Kaiser Permanente’s environmental services, or EVS, employees have intensified their routines to make sure that our facilities are properly cleaned. Their work includes continual cleaning and sanitizing, with additional disinfection for high-touch areas such as waiting rooms and restrooms.

“If a room has been used for a COVID-19-positive patient, we wear full personal protective equipment and clean every surface from the floor to the ceiling,” said Jami Ortiz, housekeeping aide, Kaiser Permanente in the Northwest. “It can take at least 3 times as long to clean, but our team steps up.”

“Throughout my career in EVS, I have been fortunate to meet some of the most dedicated and caring individuals who give their all for the safety of others as they work tirelessly to keep our medical facilities safe and germ-free,” said Osmond Adams, senior facilities manager, Kaiser Permanente in the Mid-Atlantic states. “Our care is truly demonstrated in these difficult times of COVID-19 where our teams have admirably stepped up to increase our cleaning and disinfection.”

Enhanced cleaning and sanitizing are also top priorities for many other departments where Kaiser Permanente’s employees work to create safe environments that help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“We took immediate action in our department with patient meal delivery and cafeteria services to ensure sanitation,” said Carolyn Caballes, director, food and nutrition services, Kaiser Permanente in Hawaii. “The café transitioned to offering prepackaged items or a server will assist. We put up barriers at cash registers, taped out lines for service, and there’s constant cleaning of all touch points in the dining and self-serve area, and delivery carts for patient meal service. A lot of what we do here, we do at home too.”

Following guidance from infectious disease and public health authorities, Kaiser Permanente has established several important safety precautions across our system. Our facilities have implemented symptom checks as well as physical distancing in lobbies and waiting areas. Masks are required for anyone who enters our building in both clinical and nonclinical areas. Signage and instructions from Kaiser Permanente greeters and other staff members offer guidance on protocols as employees put safety and service at the center of member and patient interactions.

“A member came into the pharmacy and notified me that she was deaf,” said Margaret “Misty” Winkler, pharmacy technician, Kaiser Permanente in the Mid-Atlantic states. “Since we were all wearing masks, she wasn’t able to read my lips. I immediately realized that I needed to write everything down for her. For our whole conversation, I wrote down my part and she answered me verbally. The best part of my job is being able to make members happy.”

While not always visible to visitors, the hard work of those behind the scenes is essential to Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to provide safe, high-quality care through the COVID-19 pandemic this summer and beyond.