Advertisement

Alberta hospital cafeteria, janitorial staff called unsung heroes of COVID-19 pandemic

Alberta hospital cafeteria, janitorial staff called unsung heroes of COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH ABOVE: There's been a lot of attention on essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. But some workers don't immediately come to mind — like cafeteria and janitorial staff. As Julia Wong explains, one doctor says they are the unsung heroes during the pandemic.

Physicians in Alberta say they have been humbled by the response from the public for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they say it’s those behind the scenes who deserve a lot of credit.

Dr. Peter Brindley, a critical care physician at the University of Alberta Hospital, said he thinks cleaning and janitorial staff deserve the spotlight.

READ MORE: Wage boosts for essential workers should last beyond COVID-19 pandemic: union leaders

“I have immense sympathy for the people making our sandwiches, coffee and especially the cleaners in the hospital. We have the medical background so we understand the disease and they perhaps don’t,” he said.

“If anyone’s a hero, it includes those people.”

Jeffrey Cabaldan has been working in food services at the cafeteria inside the Royal Alexandra Hospital for three years. He said he doesn’t have any concerns working in a hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Story continues below advertisement
Jeffrey Calbaldan has worked at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in food services for three years.
Jeffrey Calbaldan has worked at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in food services for three years. Courtesy/AHS
“I know the hospital is a safe place [compared to] if you’re working in a variety store or a supermarket. Here, before you go to work, you do the screening on the main floor,” he said.
“While at work, we [wear] our mask, we have protection in front of the customers so we’re still doing social distancing away from the customer and [we] never touch anything from them, like we’re not accepting any cash.”
Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Honouring the paramedics on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Cabaldan said he sanitizes counters and pin pads every five minutes and washes his hands every 30 minutes.

“[My job] has changed a lot but it’s [safer],” he said.

Cabaldan also said he is proud to be an essential worker.

“We’re here to serve you. I’m proud to help people,” he said.

Coronavirus outbreak: Cleaning companies in U.K. among front liners combating COVID-19 spread
Coronavirus outbreak: Cleaning companies in U.K. among front liners combating COVID-19 spread

Carlo Flores is in environmental services and has been a part of the cleaning staff at the hospital for more than a year. He said his job is to maintain a safe and clean environment for patients and staff.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Pro cleaning companies busy during COVID-19 pandemic, Hamilton home cleaners struggle

Story continues below advertisement
“My day-to-day life has changed in the fact that we have to be more cautious. The type of precautions we have to put in place is use different PPE and also follow new protocols that [have been put] in place by AHS,” he said.
“We need to make sure every person who [is] seeking care, we have to make sure that with disinfectant, we clean properly for the next patient that will come and seek assistance,” he said.
Coronavirus: what your next visit to the dentist might look like
Coronavirus: what your next visit to the dentist might look like

He said it is an honour to be an essential worker during the pandemic.

Story continues below advertisement

“I like to provide a safe environment and ensure that everybody will be safe while in the hospital, while working,” he said.

“It is extra challenging because we have to pay attention to detail and [be] more careful to avoid the spreading of the virus.”

READ MORE: From custodians to abortion providers, how coronavirus is changing our lives

Flores said it is a privilege to be called a hero by others but is modest about it.

“Our commitment is with the public, with Albertans and Canadians in general to maintain their safety and provide them [with] a safer place, safer environment.”