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Cleaning Teams Are Keeping Us Safe

Friday, May 1, 2020

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During a year of unprecedented challenges, CCC has continued to safely and compassionately serve our more than 13,000 clients, patients and residents – who rely on us to keep the doors open, now more than ever. And we couldn’t do it without our supporters, who ensure we can continue serving our neighbors in need. Please consider making a year-end gift to keep our wraparound services strong as we look ahead to 2021. Together, we’re transforming lives.

Miles Sledd, the assistant director of Central City Concern’s Blackburn Center, believes that a successful public health response – like the global effort to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic – depends utterly on the skill and focus of people in environmental services.

“Humans are gross! Myself included,” said Sledd, half-jokingly.

Brian Slack is a leader on the environmental services team at Blackburn Center. “I try to be positive,” he says. “I hope that shows in the work that I do.”

Brian Slack agrees. As the lead environmental services worker for the Blackburn Center clinic, he’s very familiar with the kind of wear and tear people create in such a busy space. And yet, he and his colleagues show up every day to clean and sanitize the Blackburn Center – all 200,000 square feet of it.

“Their work is a huge part of why we’ve been able to limit transmission of COVID-19 at CCC,” said Sledd.

Normal custodial duties at Blackburn and other CCC facilities include regular cleaning of bathrooms, exam rooms, kitchens, floors and meeting spaces. On a normal day at work, Slack said he walks more than seven miles.

To protect staff and clients from COVID-19, the environmental services team has added a long list of additional tasks to the usual line-up. They increased the number of normal cleanings per shift, including more deep cleaning, more often. Regular disinfection of high-touch surfaces — everything from elevator buttons and handrails to table tops and chairs — is a key priority now.

Daniel Weaver, an on-call environmental services worker at CCC has a reputation for being meticulous when it comes to sanitizing high-touch surfaces.

Daniel Weaver, an on-call custodian, has shone in that area, tirelessly and methodically spraying and cleaning every door handle, counter, keyboard and elevator button.

“I take it seriously,” Weaver said. He keeps up with the latest news about COVID-19 and knows that sanitizing surfaces is an important part of combating the virus. “But you have to keep doing it all day, every day – not just once.”

The team has had to get creative to make up for nationwide shortages of some cleaning supplies. Instead of using increasingly hard-to-find cleaning wipes, the team has stationed spray bottles of virus-killing cleaner and paper towels around the building. It isn’t quite as convenient, but they can preserve wipes for when they’re needed most.

And they have new tasks on their plates as well. Brian and his colleague Corey Center have mastered putting up and taking down the tent that shelters COVID screeners outside Blackburn – even when that means wrestling with it in a rainstorm. Allen Powell deep-cleans the COVID Triage area to sanitize it every single day. Clarence Jones noticed that the employee break room was too crowded for proper physical distancing, so he helped set up an alternative space. One night, Brian and Corey came back after their regularly scheduled shift to sanitize a room that had potential contamination. It was an urgent job. They donned Tyvek suits, masks, face shields and gloves before spraying the room with disinfectant.

“We want to keep everyone safe,” Brian said. “We’re doing the best we can.”

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The environmental services team takes great care to keep all 200,000 square feet of Blackburn Center clean. Team members pictured, from left: Clarence Jones, Rebecca Mays, Robert Sanders.

There are fewer people in the Blackburn building these days due to coronavirus precautions. Nearly a quarter of primary care appointments have shifted to telehealth phone consultations, rather than in-person visits. Nearly all recovery counseling meetings now take place over the phone or via video conference.

But for staff and clients who must be in the building, the consistency and care of custodial staff – both at Blackburn and at every CCC facility – is more important than ever. Each day, custodial workers across the organization are safeguarding the health, safety and peace of mind of every employee, client, patient and resident here at CCC.

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