The colonel and the cleaner
From an article on CNN
Jason Denney, a retired Air Force colonel, lay alone in his pressurized room at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital in Orlando. He had a severe case of Covid-19, and it looked like he was losing the battle.
A Catholic priest came to administer last rites. Jason said goodbye to his family via FaceTime.
But Rosaura Quinteros, a hospital housekeeper, urged Jason not to lose hope. She told him his life was in good hands, both the doctors' and God's. She said God was not done with Jason and encouraged him to keep fighting.
As the coronavirus pandemic has forced hospitals to impose strict restrictions on visitors and clergy, the work of people like Rosaura has become even more important. They don't just keep the rooms clean of harmful germs. Many also try to lighten the mood with smiles or jokes, provide encouragement when patients lose hope and offer an attentive ear when patients need to process their emotions.
Jason, 52, was born in England to an American father and Scottish mother. Rosaura was born in Pasaco, a small city in southern Guatamala, where her father was a farmer.
When Covid-19 patients began to arrive at the hospital, the chaplain manager realized her staff would not be able to do their job as usual. Fears of contagion made it impossible to hold the face-to-face conversations that can help patients process difficult emotions. So she turned to the housekeepers and other staff members who visit patients' rooms each day and put together some material of easy, open-ended questions for staff to get the patient talking.
Jason, who didn't want to be sedated or intubated, said he was in unspeakable pain, focusing on surviving five minutes at a time. He looked forward to Rosaura's short visits every morning while she cleaned his room. After a few days they began talking about more serious subjects, like their children and their faith. For six days, she became a ray of light in his suffocating darkness.
Before she enters a Covid-19 patient's room, Rosaura puts on a mask as well as a protective gown, gloves and eyewear. Her Catholic faith, she said, provides another kind of protection. "I rely on the training I received at the hospital and put my faith in God. I put everything in God's hands."
Jason, who is also Catholic, said Rosaura would talk about the power of Jesus and how the Lord would heal him.
Though hospital housekeepers are often measured by standards of productivity -- how many rooms they clean -- hospital executives are beginning to realize their larger importance. They often interact with patients more than physicians do, and they do so with great compassion.
Jason recovered and has left hospital. He and his wife hope to meet Rosaura's family and thank them. "People don't realize that in their brief engagements with other people, the words you say matter. And in the situation I was in, they really matter."
Read the full article here.
Retweet about this article: