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Front line hero: Environmental Services Supervisor Juneka “JuJu” Chimembe leads team of housekeeping professionals through pandemic

May 28, 2020

Highlands Ranch, Colo. (May 28, 2020) – As an Environmental Services (EVS) professional at UCHealth Highlands Ranch Hospital supervising a team of housekeeping staff, Juneka “JuJu” Chimembe faced the COVID-19 crisis from the start head-on, front and center. It is her job, along with dozens of other EVS team members, to disinfect using enhanced sterilization procedures.

Download video Download Juneka “JuJu” Chimembe interview

“Cleaning always makes me feel good. Cleaning in a sense, whether it’s in a pandemic or not, cleaning in a sense brings a certain different happy aura,” she said. “I love cleaning; it is very therapeutic for me. The patient interaction and putting the cleaning and patient interaction together is a beautiful story for me.”

UCHealth’s EVS teams have years of experience in cleaning and disinfecting hospitals, clinics and patient rooms. They have dealt with many kinds of illnesses, and their cleaning methods exceed national standards. While EVS professionals disinfect vacant patient rooms to prepare for the next patient, they also interact with patients in the hospital as they clean their rooms while occupied.

“Patient interaction is the most important to me – the most,” Chimembe said. “I just make sure that they understand that I’m here for them.”

One of the greatest joys of her job is being able to reassure patients during the COVID-19 pandemic that she is there for them if they need anything.

“What we do is very important,” she said. “You are … there for these people in a time where they don’t know where they are going. … Us being that small piece of happiness and joy for someone else is more than words can explain.”

Training and donning of protective equipment prepares our EVS teams to disinfect for COVID-19 just like any other infectious disease.

“For EVS, I can say that this job is more than words can describe. It is amazing if you are present – and that’s not just physically, that’s mentally, and taking pride in your work,” Chimembe said.

Thanks to these and other efforts throughout the hospital and health care system, UCHealth facilities are safe and open to care for patients.

“We want our patients to get better,” Chimembe said. “We want them to go home and be well. We would love to see them again, but just not in the same circumstances. I always tell my patients that I want to see you again – you know where to find me.

“Take care – be well.”

Measures implemented at all UCHealth locations to ensure safety for our patients, visitors, physicians, advanced practice practitioners and staff include:

  • All high-touch areas are receiving frequent cleanings.
  • All pens, tablets and check-in desks are cleaned between each patient.
  • Signs in our facilities and limited or respaced furniture enforce physical distancing.
  • Plexiglass shields are installed around check-in desks, cafeteria registers and other areas.
  • Patients are asked to wear masks, and all staff and providers are wearing masks in care areas.
  • Visitors will continue to be limited.
  • Limited numbers of people will be allowed in elevators.

Paula Freund
Manager, Public Relations
O 720.848.5809
C 317.985.1194
P 303.266.2608 (24-hour media pager)