• Wayne HealthCare Hero: Hilda Earles

Meet Hilda Earles: One of the Pandemic’s Unsung Healthcare Heroes

By Jennifer Robinson, Marketing & Physician Outreach, Wayne HealthCare

 

Hilda’s about as admired, valued and appreciated as any person could hope to be. She’s an environmental services specialist at Wayne HealthCare, and for the past 15 years, she’s spent her days (and sometimes nights), scrubbing, scouring and sanitizing patient rooms throughout the hospital.

Everyone who knows Hilda will tell you that she possesses a seemingly inexhaustible work ethic that would rival that of workers half her age. She tackles every day’s tasks with a tenacity and purpose that some might not understand, wondering why she’s so committed to a job that they would call tedious.

But, to Hilda, it’s a job that…well, let’s let Hilda explain.

“I just love my job! Yes, it’s hard work, and yes, it does take a toll on my body, but I love my job. I get to be around people every day, and I care for them all…the patients and staff. I just love being around people.”

And from what we can tell, people just love being around Hilda, including patients, who, after meeting her, more often than naught have a broad smile on their face.

“Whenever I pass a patient’s room, I always say a prayer for that patient. If I’m cleaning a room that a patient’s in, I’ll greet them, saying ‘good morning, how are you? Is there anything I can do for you?’”

Rx for Caring

Usually the patient rooms Hilda enters to clean are vacant, but she recalls an exchange with a hospitalized patient several years ago that left an indelible mark on her heart and in her memory.

“I still recall that day as being very busy. I kept passing a patient room that I hadn’t cleaned yet because the door was closed.”

Not wanting to disturb the patient, Hilda waited and waited, but she increasingly felt compelled to go in.

“I believe it was God saying ‘you need to go into that room,’ so I walked up the door, knocked and said ‘Housekeeping.’ I stepped inside, and the patient looked up at me, smiled, and said, ‘I was waiting for you.’”

That day, while the patient was being treated medically, at that moment, what they needed the most was caring and comfort, and Hilda had a prescription for both.

“We chatted for several minutes, and I mostly just listened compassionately to them. It was a moving experience.”

COVID-19 Challenge

Hilda, who works primarily in the Emergency Department at Wayne HealthCare, faced what is perhaps her greatest on-the-job challenge when COVID-19 reached into Darke County.

In late March of this year, the hospital split its ED into two sections, half was designated for COVID-19 patients and half was set aside for non-COVID-19 patients. Hilda was responsible for cleaning both sections. That was less than welcome news to her family, but to Hilda, who calls the ED her “home away from home” she had a job to do, and the coronavirus was not going to stop her.

“I told my family that I take all the precautions, including suiting up before entering the COVID-19 unit,” said Hilda.

For three months, Hilda had to wear an isolation gown, gloves and a special powered air- purifying respirator known as a PAPR . Despite that, she never complained, not even once, and she continued to clean up to 15 patient rooms a day, sometimes three to four times each, all while wearing the extra personal protection equipment.

EXCEEDINGLY WELL

"I enjoy talking with our patients every day, getting to know them and their families."

Lisa Snyder, UCMC