Xiomara Mendez works at Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital Environment Services, where she’s been employed for a few short months. Xiomara is on the “mid-shift/discharge team,” which focuses on deep cleaning patient rooms after the patients are discharged, a critical component to maintaining the flow of the hospital and ensuring patients are as safe as possible. Meet this frontline hero, Xiomara Mendez!

Xiomara Mendez works with the custodial team at VUMC. Image: Donn Jones/Vanderbilt University Medical Center

How is a typical shift on your job different now than it was pre-COVID?

It’s about the same, however, I am always willing to stay late if needed. I am happy to stay and help my team to get the work done. The work my team does on a day-to-day basis is very important to make sure patients arrive to a clean room with no worries. I understand that my job is very important, and I take it very seriously. It is important to me to do a great job cleaning so patients do not get exposed to COVID-19.

What sort of extra precautions are you taking in your work right now that you hadn’t previously taken or been required to take?

We are wearing surgical masks, paying close attention to every detail of cleaning as well as all rules of the job, continuing with social distancing, and trying to communicate with the team as much as possible.

Is there anything you wish the general population knew about the work you and your team are doing right now?

We all need to work together to get the job done. Teamwork and communication are key. I would like for everyone to know that the work we do is very interesting and very satisfying. We work to serve the patients and ensure cleanliness standards are maintained throughout our facilities. Also, VUMC is a safe environment for all.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy all that I do here, and I am happy that I still have a job to do. I am happy to work with my team. Our new team members are quick learners, and I enjoy training new team members. I encourage my team members daily in our pre-shift huddles by sharing information and re-enforcing the cleaning process so we all feel comfortable when cleaning rooms.

Is there anything the general population can do to better support the people on the frontline like yourself?

It is important to remind people to wash hands routinely and continue to practice social distancing to minimize the spread of this virus. It is good to know that I have the support of my family and the people around me. When I go to the grocery store the people thank me for my work at Vanderbilt.

Xiomara Mendez works with the custodial team at VUMC. Image: Donn Jones/Vanderbilt University Medical Center

What is the one thing you look most forward to when we’re past COVID-19?

Getting back to normal, with the people coming back to work. I really would like to go on vacation to go see my mom in Belize. It has been a year since I last visited with her. My mom works with my sister in a restaurant, and my mom recently had an accident where she spilled hot water on her upper abdomen, so she is at home resting and recovering. I’m really excited to go see her.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

We all have a part to play — it’s all teamwork. I clean, and the doctors and nurses come in to care for the patients — we all work together for the patients. I just want everyone to be able to come to VUMC in a clean building and feel safe when they are here.

Thank you, Xiomara! 


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