Fighting the coronavirus, one disinfectant wipe at a time

Laurence Latendresse Jobin (front row, centre), and Constantinos Petrakos (front row, right), with other members of the JGH Housekeeping team.
Laurence Latendresse Jobin (front row, centre), and Constantinos Petrakos (front row, right), with other members of the JGH Housekeeping team.

Laurence Latendresse Jobin is at the frontlines of the battle against the coronavirus. Each day at the Jewish General Hospital, he puts on full protective gear to enter patients’ rooms. He disinfects his shoes before he leaves his shift.

By the time he gets home, it is close to midnight, leaving him just enough time to go to sleep and start over the next day at 9 a.m.

Mr. Latendresse Jobin is a critical link at our CIUSSS during the coronavirus outbreak. He isn’t a doctor or nurse. He’s a member of the Housekeeping team, working to save lives by keeping patients and staff safe during the pandemic.

“Now more than ever,” Mr. Latendresse Jobin says, “we have to give our all.”

The COVID-19 outbreak has placed extraordinary demands on staff at our CIUSSS, and members of Housekeeping – also known as Environmental Services — are no exception. Their job is to scrub and deep clean surfaces to make sure they are disinfected, a physically demanding job that puts them in contact with potentially dangerous contamination.

Some have made personal sacrifices by willingly isolating themselves from their families. One cleaner has barely seen his baby, born in February, because his wife moved with the newborn to another home to avoid possible infection. Another Housekeeping member is living in his garage to protect his aging parents.

Yet despite their own worries, the cleaning crews have no choice but show up on the job: they can’t work from home.

“Everyone has family they want to protect. But we all have to get past those fears to come to work,” Mr. Latendresse Jobin says. “In the end, you do it out of solidarity with others.”

Housekeeping staff have had to apply fast-changing cleaning protocols during the coronavirus outbreak to meet the JGH’s infection control standards. Their tools range from mops and hospital-grade wipes to tech-based Nocospray room-sterilizing units.

Their work can take them into acute-care settings in the epicenter of the pandemic, where they have to wear full protective gear consisting of a mask, face shield and disposable gown. The job can be stressful.

“We’re proud of them and the way they have stepped up to the plate and delivered,” says Anthony Turi, Department Head of Environmental Services at the JGH. “We have people who have made a difference.”

Mr. Latendresse Jobin volunteered to work extended hours – 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., five days a week – since the start of the outbreak. He says he took on the extra work in part so he can keep an eye on the safety of his colleagues; Mr. Turi describes Mr. Latendresse Jobin as a “guardian angel.”

Constantinos Petrakos, another member of the Housekeeping team, has been working up to 16 hours a day. He says the crisis has given him a deeper appreciation of the dedication of healthcare workers at the JGH, especially the nurses.

“Everybody is going above and beyond,” Mr. Petrakos says. “The camaraderie is amazing. We’re all going through the same thing and we know everybody’s in this battle together, from the cleaners to the doctors.”

“We’re all in the same boat,” Mr. Petrakos says. “It’s like Noah’s Ark.”

And the cleaning crew is on board, scrubbing and vaporizing with their Nocospray machines, keeping everyone as safe as they can.

Listen to the CIUSSS podcast with Anthony Turi, Chief of Housekeeping at the Jewish General Hospital