Gloria Penaloza is one of 270 VGH housekeepers ensuring the hospital’s cleanliness for patients, staff and visitors.

Life underground: spotlight on housekeeping  

In the sixth installment in our series featuring the teams who work in the VGH tunnel, we feature the Housekeeping Department (also known as Environmental Services). 

Location: The housekeeping office is located in the tunnel below Heather Pavilion; however, at any given time, housekeeping staff can be found throughout the hospital.

How many staff do you have? 270

Hours of operation: 24/7

What is the Housekeeping Department?

The housekeeping team is responsible for keeping the hospital environment clean and safe for patients, staff and visitors. “We work very closely with clinical teams,” says Ray Rahiman, operations manager, Crothall Healthcare, “to ensure that we are providing excellent service in a timely manner so that hospital operations can continue efficiently.”

Housekeeper Elizabeth Dopo.

What does the Housekeeping Department do?

In order to keep the hospital spotless, the team cleans and disinfects all clinical and non-clinical areas including patient care rooms, offices, washrooms and common areas.

In a hospital as large as VGH, there is a lot to keep the housekeeping staff busy. They remove all garbage, recycling, broken office items, soiled linen and bio-hazard waste. They also vacuum carpets, clean and polish hard floor surfaces, disinfect walls and beds, remove items from patient rooms and change curtains.

The folks who work in the department are keenly aware that patients rely on the work that they do. “I am detail-oriented and I take pride in the work that I do,” says housekeeper Elizabeth Dopo. “[On the unit] they call me ‘shiny person’ because everything is shiny once I leave. I do my best because I know the patient wants the room to be clean.”

How do you support the delivery of quality patient care?

Working closely with Infection Control and patient care teams, housekeeping staff support the delivery of quality patient care by ensuring the highest standards of cleanliness in the hospital environment are maintained. The team keeps patients, staff and visitors safe from the spread of micro-organisms by thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Additionally, by keeping areas clean, they help create an atmosphere of confidence for patients and visitors alike.

How does housekeeping support innovation in health care?

With the evolution of antibiotic-resistant superbugs and other complex pathogens, housekeeping staff have responded with new and innovative methods for combating bugs and keeping staff and visitors safe.

The housekeeping team has two dedicated staff members that operate rapid UV disinfecting machines that kill Clostridium difficile (C. diff). Once Angus and Dodger, VCH’s canine infection control team, have detected C. diff in an area, the housekeeping team responds ensuring the room is disinfected before it can spread.

Did you know?

  • On average, VGH housekeeping staff walk 7-8,000 steps during a shift.
  • Housekeeping staff clean and disinfect between 22 and 28 rooms during a shift.
  • During an average shift, housekeeping staff will clean between seven and nine patient rooms post-discharge.
  • The Housekeeping Department has a dedicated staff member operating a wheelchair washer.
  • Housekeeping also sets up meeting rooms and common areas for meetings and events.

Read more about the people working in the VGH Tunnel