Ynes Rosales: Leading Her EVS Team Through COVID-19
As the Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Cedar Crest Hospital campus in Allentown, Pa. began increasing the number of COVID-19 patients in March and April, Ynes Rosales made certain her Environmental Services (EVS) team would thoroughly clean each patient’s room. She also made certain to keep her staff safe.
She started by overseeing the training for more than 200 people, making sure they donned masks, goggles and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for each room cleaning. To comfort them during this difficult period, she also spoke with each person to understand she would work to keep them safe.
“Training is the most important part,” said Rosales. “I talked to each person to make sure they were aware of what they needed to do. Some people were scared, so I often went with them to clean a patient’s room. I explained to them if they use the proper PPE and chemicals, they will be safe.”
As the assistant director for Crothall’s EVS unit, Ynes has worked for Crothall for 20 years, all of them at Lehigh Valley. But she admits she’s never seen anything like the pandemic.
Approximately 50 people treated for COVID-19 were discharged daily during the peak of the infections, meaning that Ynes and her team needed to deep clean each room, then use UV-C to terminally clean the room. Even though the hospital’s rooms for COVID patients have recently been converted back to regular patient rooms, Ynes and her team took cleaning to a new level during the height of the crisis.
“There was a wait time, depending on the room, 30-90 minutes before they let anyone in,” says Michael Simmers, EVS director at Lehigh Valley. Crothall used CDC guidance to determine how housekeepers needed to wait while air droplets that might carry the virus dissipated. “Every associate wore a mask and goggles during cleaning, and every room was cleaned using ultraviolet light technology, which cleans surfaces often missed by manual cleaning. It was a massive operation that involved our entire team.”
True to her word, no housekeeping associates have been infected at the hospital with COVID-19.
Simmers credits Ynes’ rapport with her team for the unit’s success during the pandemic. “We have 100 people coming to work every morning, and there isn’t an area large enough to do our typical huddles,” Simmers said. “So, Ynes met with each person to answer any questions.”
For Ynes, her leadership during the COVID-19 crisis is the culmination of a 20-year investment in her career and education.
Two years after arriving in the U.S. from Peru, she joined Crothall. While she didn’t speak English and had never worked in environmental services, Rick Krische, a former supervisor, became a mentor. He continually encouraged her to work hard, take on new jobs and improve her skills.
She learned as many jobs as possible, including stripping wax from floors, cleaning carpets and even driving a Zamboni machine. And thanks to Krische, she was given additional responsibilities. “He gave me the opportunity to work here and eventually made me a team lead,” Ynes recalls.
Krische also encouraged her to learn English and helped her enroll in an adult education class at Lehigh County Community College. As her skills and confidence grew, Ynes’s work became recognized by management. She won “Employee of the Year” for two straight years before getting a management position eight years ago.
Krische, her original mentor, has since passed away, but Ynes continues to give credit to others around her. “I am proud to work for Crothall. Thanks to the company, I’ve been able to build a career and provide for my 16-year-old daughter, Rysha. Working together with Mike and our team, we will get through this crisis.”