Despite constant splatters of blood and other bodily fluids, hospitals are required to maintain the utmost cleanliness no matter where they are located. This is borne out of the necessity to protect the sick. Cleaners are credited with maintaining the pristine conditions, but the coronavirus pandemic – where a sloppy approach to hygiene rules could prove deadly – has posed a new challenge.
Nowadays, they still strive to remove dangerous germs from health facilities, all the while struggling to keep themselves safe from the coronavirus, which has saddled health care workers with a heavy burden. Like health care workers who have even sacrificed their lives in this new fight, they do not complain much and even express pride about helping the country in this struggle.
At Ümraniye Training and Research Hospital, one of the biggest hospitals on Istanbul’s Asian side, cleaners work day and night both for the health of the personnel and the patients. They view themselves as the main supporters of health care workers, who are forced to work long shifts without seeing their families for weeks. In every corner of the hospital, a cleaner stands ready to combat any case of dirt and contamination. They tirelessly mop the floors, wiping down everything, from doorknobs to stairways. They are also responsible for cleaning larger spaces like rooms and rest areas with detergents and sanitizers and carry medical waste to disposal units.
Nurten Gündoğdu, one of the cleaners, said she has so far dodged the virus, but her son and daughter were infected and recovered. “I did well during the pandemic, but people should be careful. We work here around the clock at the emergency room, at clinics and in surgery suites. We are support personnel and work to do our best. The pandemic required us to pay more attention to cleanliness, be it in the patients’ rooms or in the lavatories,” she told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Sunday. Gündoğdu loves her job and says she is “proud and honored” to help the patients. “We work to keep the hospital clean as much as possible and are especially careful for new patients. It makes me happy that if a patient is discharged after his or her recovery as I think I have my share in their recovery,” she said.
Erdal Bektaş, who works as a clinical support worker, said the pandemic increased their workload and added new challenges to their daily routine. Bektaş himself was infected and recovered. “I know what these people went through,” he said, referring to the patients. “So, it is better for people to stay at home instead of risking infection outside,” he added. Bektaş said they were getting used to the busy schedule in the early days of the outbreak, but they were going through a new “peak” and the workload has been much higher.
Vedat Ayar, who works as a security guard at the hospital, said though the work has been busier, they do not complain. “We have to be in contact with patients entering or leaving and are tasked with checking the temperatures of any visitors. We are wearing masks, gloves and keep our distance from others, but some among the guards were infected anyway. We try to control the flow of visitors and patients and warn them about being careful regarding social distancing, hygiene and mask rules,” said Ayar, who was infected and recovered. “I had been through difficult days, but the staff here supported me. I am happy and proud to work here. People coming here can help us by complying with a few rules. First, if you do not have any health problem, you should absolutely not visit the hospital, to visit any patient. You can be asymptomatic and can infect others. It is important to stay home,” he said.
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