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Physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists on the coronavirus pandemic frontlines have been hailed as heroes for putting their lives at risk to help others. While they may be the face of the hospital and those interacting directly with the patients, hospitals are full of other staff members also going above and beyond to ensure patient and staff safety during this pandemic. These individuals not only make the hospital work daily even before COVID-19, but their jobs have been exponentially stressful during the pandemic.

1. Housekeeping and environmental services. The pandemic has brought greater attention to the need for cleanliness and hygiene more than ever. Housekeeping and environmental services staff perform the arduous tasks of wiping down beds, cleaning hospital hallways and patient rooms, and decontaminating hospital equipment. Arguably, these individuals have the most important role in preventing the spread of infection within the hospital.

2. Maintenance and facilities. The engineers, electricians, and maintenance workers of the facilities team have rapidly expanded hospital capacity and built temporary units. They ensure HVAC systems are operating efficiently and optimally for adequate ventilation to contain the virus’s spread. And they maintain sufficient negative pressure rooms and air filtration, especially among isolation units for infected patients.

3. Supply chain department. The supply chain department staff are responsible for PPE procurement and ensuring the hospital is stocked with everything needed—all the linens used for patient beds and all the gloves and masks donned by physicians and nurses. With the increased demand worldwide, the usual providers quickly became overwhelmed with orders, and the supply chain department was forced to scour the market for new, trusted providers. There was not only difficulty finding sufficient supplies, but there were often delays and extended delivery times given the shutdowns.

4. Information technology. The information technologies department’s professionals make certain there are adequate computer workstations and computers on wheels for the additional units and extra staff. This was a large amount of work for areas not normally used for patient care, including temporary units and outdoor triage areas. They procured tablets for patient communications with families when visitors were no longer allowed in the hospital and set up workable telemonitoring equipment and telemedicine.

Health care requires many talented and dedicated individuals to form a multidisciplinary team, a team consisting of providers across different specialties and staff across many different departments. Although the clinical staff has received recognition, hospitals would not function without all its nonclinical staff also working tirelessly, day after day. This has been especially true during this pandemic.

And if this pandemic has taught us anything, we must recognize and appreciate every team member more often, as they play a vital role in health care and often don’t receive the recognition and appreciation they very much deserve.

Christine Lau is a physician. Collette Williams is a nurse educator.

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Source: KevinMD

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