Elstress Key spent Christmas Day at Georgia Regents Medical Center, but not as a patient or visitor.
Key, who has been with the Medical Center’s Environmental Services Department for 1 ½ years, made the rounds of about 28 patient rooms in 4 South over the holiday. While others were gaily opening Christmas presents, she made sure surfaces were dust free, floors were mopped and trash removed.
Even though many did not work Christmas Day and many businesses were closed, operations at Georgia Regents Medical Center continued as normal.
“Of course we have to keep the hospital clean. This place never closes,” Key said. “Everybody has a part in taking care of patients here.”
Key was just one of several staff in the Facilities Services Division who worked or were on-call over the Christmas holiday.
Facilities Operations Maintenance Technician Jeffrey Shepard reported to work at 7 p.m. Christmas Day and ended his shift at 7 a.m. the next day. He monitored vital equipment in the Central Energy Plant on the Health Sciences Campus, watching for abnormal activity in the air handlers, compressors and chill water, for example.
“If certain areas are too hot or too cold, a software program sends an alarm. We go and look at the particular system controlling it. We try and figure out what it is to remedy it,” Shepard said.
“As a research hospital, thousands of freezers hold millions of dollars and untold man-hour’s worth of experiments. We monitor those systems to ensure these freezers are working properly,” he said.
Not only were patient care areas kept clean, patients also were provided food on Christmas by Food and Nutrition Services Cook Jeremiah Batts and others. Batts worked a full shift Christmas Day – 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. – prepping and preparing two meals for an average of 250 patients.
“That’s my responsibility because the hospital can’t shut down. Everybody wish they could be home, but we love our job,” Batts said.
Physical Plant Specialist Steven Lakoduk has worked every holiday since joining the Georgia Regents team almost one year ago. He anticipated responding primarily to hot and cold calls on Christmas.
“If your mom is freezing in the bed, you want someone to come turn the heat up,” he said. “You’ve got to keep the place running. The customer service aspect is key.”
Key planned to have a little something special for the patients whose rooms she visited on Christmas Day.
“I was going to try to get them little trinkets,” she said. “It’s just something they can open. We be with these people every day, and you establish a relationship with them. The patients make me happy. It makes me happy to make them happy.”
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