Environmental Services Tech Alice Sprolls didn’t hesitate to help when asked to clean in Regional One Health’s COVID-19 Unit.
Instead, she saw it as a chance to lift patients’ spirits by offering a smile and friendly conversation at a time when they’re feeling lonely and scared.
Alice’s diligence is also making a positive impact on doctors and nurses, who say she and her EVS colleagues help keep them safe and healthy so they can continue caring for patients.
Alice Sprolls doesn’t clean rooms for COVID-19 patients. She cleans rooms for people.
That outlook has made the EVS technician a superstar in Regional One Health’s COVID-19 Unit, where her humanity gives her a unique ability to boost spirits in every room she enters.
“These patients can’t help it if they’re sick. They’re human beings who are just here to get better, and my heart goes out to them,” Alice said. “I want to keep things clean and sanitized for them. They can’t get up and do that for themselves, so it makes me feel good to do it for them.”
Alice’s decision to work on the COVID-19 Unit was characteristically undramatic.
She was out on vacation in March during the week her floor was converted to treat coronavirus patients. When she returned and her supervisor asked her if she’d stay, Alice didn’t hesitate.
A 15-year veteran of our EVS service, she’s been around patients with all types of injuries and illnesses. Adding COVID-19 to the list didn’t faze her, even with all the unknowns.
As Amber Thacker, MD, who leads the COVID-19 Unit, puts it, “Alice is unflappable.”
She is also a woman blessed with common sense and faith. “I’m not worried. God’s got me,” Alice said. “If I wash my hands, don’t touch my face and wear my mask, I’m protected. When I’m not at work, I stay away from groups, only see people I know, and keep my house sanitized.”
Being careful lets her continue to be there for her patients.
And in the COVID-19 Unit, where patients can’t have visitors, that doesn’t just mean keeping their rooms clean, it means being a friendly face and human connection. “I like to talk to people and meet new people. I’m like that when I’m not at work too – my daughter says I talk too much!” Alice laughed. “But that’s how you learn about people, and I like learning about people.”
Even if she only has a few minutes to spend in each room, Alice makes the most of it.
She asks patients about their families, their work, their hobbies. When one woman mentioned she was excited to get home to enjoy her favorite meal of crab legs, Alice told her she had never cooked them before and asked for her favorite recipe.
For Alice, it’s simply a chance to get to know the people she’s seeing each day.
For her patients, it’s much more – a way to get their mind off their struggles and feel connected to the things they love and take pride in, reminding them why they’re fighting so hard to heal.
If Alice is a source of happiness for her patients, she’s an absolute lifesaver for the doctors and nurses in the COVID-19 Unit. They say her dedication and hard work help them successfully treat patients while staying safe themselves.
Dr. Thacker admits she gets emotional talking about Alice.
“Her risk is higher than mine because she’s older than me, but she volunteered to be in the unit and she’s been there every day,” she said. “I really admire that she cared enough about us to want to be in the unit. She has patiently and persistently kept us safe and adapted to the ever-changing recommendations and environment graciously.”
EVS crews have been called on to do much more during the pandemic. Not only does Alice do her regular rounds of patient rooms and common areas, she deep cleans and sanitizes rooms from floor to ceiling after patients are discharged.
Nurse Manager Scott Anderst said it’s a lot to take on, and doing it right is critical to the care Regional One Health provides. “Alice has worked tirelessly for months to keep everyone safe by keeping the area clean,” he said. “Our EVS staff are beyond essential and are some of the most important people to have worked the COVID-19 areas.”
While Alice insists she’s just doing her job, she’s grateful to have the chance to make an impact during a difficult time.
She looks forward to the day COVID-19 is no longer a threat, but until then, she’ll keep making her way in and out of patient rooms, armed with not just cleaning supplies, but a friendly smile.
In Alice’s eyes, that’s simply how you treat people.
“We never know – it could be me or my family member lying in that bed. These are people, and they’ve got mothers and fathers and husbands and wives,” she said. “They just want to get better and get home, and I hope I can lift their spirits up.”