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IN IT TOGETHER: ‘I just want to bring the patients joy’

Posted May 14th, 2020

IN IT TOGETHER: ‘I just want to bring the patients joy’

This is part of a series of stories profiling members of the Niagara Health team and the work they are doing as part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meet Tamara Zahn, a member of our Environmental Services team.

For Tamara Zahn, being part of the Environmental Services team at Niagara Health extends beyond her job description.

As a member of the EVS team, Tamara is responsible for cleaning and disinfecting to ensure a safe environment on the unit where she works at our Greater Niagara General Site in Niagara Falls. But it’s more than that for Tamara. She takes a personal interest in our patients and always wants to brighten their day while cleaning their rooms.

“I love our patients and all I want to do is bring joy to each of them,” she says.

Tamara works on the inpatient Trillium Unit, which is currently caring for COVID-positive patients following an outbreak on the floor. Tamara and her Environmental Services (EVS) colleagues at Niagara Health play an important role in stopping the spread of the virus and protecting patients, staff and physicians during the pandemic. In addition to cleaning, they are also responsible for linen deliveries and all aspects of waste removal, including bio-medical waste such as sharps containers.                           

What changes have been made in response to the pandemic?

In addition to creating a clean and safe environment in all areas of the hospital, my colleagues in EVS were responsible for preparing the areas where COVID-positive patients would be cared for. It was important to minimize the staff that work in these areas and keep the area isolated to prevent the spread of the virus. Behind the scenes, the EVS team helps to ensure everyone has the appropriate scrubs and gowns to wear through our linen service.

What have you found to be the most challenging during the pandemic?

COVID-positive patients are in their own room, which is tough, as they don’t have as much companionship. I am very diligent in making sure I’m doing everything properly – from handwashing to putting on and taking off PPE (personal protective equipment). When I’m working, I’m confident in my abilities to protect others and myself but that means always focusing on the task at hand. It’s my responsibility to keep our staff and patients protected.

How do you stay positive during a challenging time?

I just want to bring the patients joy. Before I’m done cleaning a room, I asked them if they need anything else or I share a photo of my dog, Noodles, to entertainment them and keep their mind off their environment. It’s a pleasure helping our patients feel more comfortable.

Describe working with your team?

I have worked at Niagara Health since 1996, starting my career off in the dietary department. It was only two years ago that I started in this role. I feel that we are all equal in this fight and I’m happy and proud to be part of this team. The pandemic has really brought us all closer together.

Click on the In It Together button below to read more stories about our team.

Niagara Health System