A look at the unsung heroes on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic

Medical Watch

CHICAGO — The healthcare providers tending to sick patients on the frontlines of the pandemic have been talked about a great deal. But doctors, nurses and respiratory therapist tell WGN it’s the people that keep the hospital clean when the building is rampant with COVID-19 that are the unsung heroes in this battle.

Daisy Coronel is a building service worker at Cook County Health. She begins her shift each day with layers of PPE.

“All the PPE we have to have on, it is kind of hot once you are in there moving around and trying to wipe everything down so it’s a bit different,” said Coronel. “The days are different, one day I may be in a COVID area, one day I may be in the ER, another day I may be in the clinic.”

On Thursday, she was cleaning in a quiet area of Stroger Hospital, where beds are on reserve for any overflow patients.

“I try to make sure that the bed is clean to the best of my ability,” Coronel said. “Luckily, our disinfectant sanitizes and kills the COVID virus.”

Coronel’s been on staff for five years, but her connection to the hospital reaches back much further.

“I’ve been proud since I first started working here. I was born in Cook County Hospital. I know environmental is not a big department, but it helps the hospital move every day if it wasn’t for us everything would stop because this place wouldn’t be clean.”

Like nurses and doctors she passes in the halls, Coronel has daily contact with patients, including those fighting COVID-19.

“We have COVID units. Each room has a patient inside of it, so we actually go inside the room, pull the trash, clean the bathroom, mop the floors on a daily basis. Then just go on to the next one”, Coronel said.

“The majority of the time they are feeling down because their family members can’t come and see them and some of the time I speak with them try to cheer them up,” Coronel said.

At home, she’s there for her 9-year-old son. He knows his mom plays a critical role in the crisis, one that puts her own health at risk.

“Just yesterday I asked my son for a hug and he told no remember the pandemic, and I told him it’s OK just give me one hug so that’s the only difficult part”, Coronel said.

“I feel accomplished basically that I’m helping out. That it’s possible with all this going on I have a role with helping people get better and making sure the room is sanitized for the next person.”

“I’m proud to be an environmental service worker at cook county hospital”, Coronel said.

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