When the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic broke on B.C.’s shores, most people did their level best to get as far from the virus as possible.
Kelly Schedewitz did the exact opposite.
Shchedeweiz runs a hair salon in Gastown, which was shut down by a public health order in mid-March.
The shutdown left her in need of income to keep the business afloat, along with the feeling that she could be pitching in.
“I knew that if it was serious enough to shut down the salon, I also wanted to do something to help in the fight against COVID,” she said.
“I took a quick inventory of my skillset; I knew I don’t have a medical background. The one thing I am really good at is cleaning.”
Schedewitz went online and applied to Crothall Healthcare, the cleaning company contracted to St. Paul’s Hospital.
That kicked off eight weeks as an enhanced cleaner in the housekeeping department — full shifts of scrubbing and disinfecting surfaces, while decked out in personal protective equipment.
Sarah O’neill, Crothall’s environmental services manager, described Schedewitz’ work ethic as “phenomenal.”
“To be here, to help out, to make sure patients, staff, everybody is safe — it’s been great,” said O’neill.
“They’re doing stuff that a lot of people don’t want to be doing right now.”
Schedewitz was quick to deflect praise to the full-time team of cleaners, cooks and other men and women who work behind the scenes at St. Paul’s.
“It is an incredibly important job in the hospitals; it requires a tremendous amount of work and persistence to do. I truly believe that the hospital couldn’t run without the men and women behind the scenes,” she said.
“They do it with humility, with grace, and it’s also really rewarding. That’s the surprise — I didn’t realize how rewarding it would be.”
With the lockdown lifted, Schedewitz wrapped her last day at the hospital on Thursday, where staff in the maternity ward gifted her with flowers and goodbyes.
She is now headed back to the salon, where she says she has a long waiting list of clients looking to lose their quarantine hairdos.
Those clients, she quipped, can rest assured the salon will be germ-free — thanks in part to the deep-cleaning skills she picked up at St. Paul’s.
“I was that type before, but now I’m wound even tighter. It’s great.”View link »