A patient might have no family or friends, and they’re in the hospital. Maybe they just wanted somebody to chat with for, like, three minutes and somebody to listen to them and that housekeeper coming in there for that 10 minutes to clean their room could be that person. And we’re not just the housekeeper. In some ways, we’re a companion, somebody that helps build trust in the health system. For us to be part of that ecosystem helps patients heal.

My mother has been a registered nurse in pediatrics for 30-plus years, and my father is a respiratory therapist and also part of the FEMA national disaster team that flies to South America, Puerto Rico, all over the world. They are really inspiring. Seeing and hearing their stories as a young man growing up, it inspired me to want to be involved.

When I graduated from college, I just jumped right in. I started in housekeeping, which is not flying helicopters to foreign countries and picking people up, but it was a chance to get in there, to impact patients in another way: cleanliness, first impressions of the hospital.

Patients, families, visitors, they come in and say, “Wow, this place is beautiful. It’s sanitized. It’s clean.” That gives them a calm and a peace and a trust in the nurses and doctors, that they’re going to heal them. So that’s the role we play. At the end of the day, it’s about the people and being one team.

A patient might have no family or friends, and they’re in the hospital. Maybe they just wanted somebody to chat with for, like, three minutes and somebody to listen to them and that housekeeper coming in there for that 10 minutes to clean their room could be that person. And we’re not just the housekeeper. In some ways, we’re a companion, somebody that helps build trust in the health system. For us to be part of that ecosystem helps patients heal.

I’ve been doing housekeeping for 10-plus years, all over the country. When you’re in housekeeping, the number one issue is turnover. I’ve never seen environmental services staff that just does not turn over. There are people here that have been housekeepers for 15, 20, 30, 40 years. They show up every single day. It’s the most consistent environmental services program I’ve ever seen in my life.

I’m very grateful to Alameda Health System. They’ve done a lot for me and supported me. We had this pandemic and no one flinched. They just doubled down, and they were laser focused.

It’s been a great journey for me. I really enjoy working with the housekeepers. So many eclectic personalities, so diverse, they’re so much fun. These are some of the hardest-working folks you could ever imagine.