Celebrating the Humans Behind EVS: Tanya Thornton
Environmental services staff fight on the frontlines of infection every day: while medical staff fight infections in the body, EVS techs fight infection in the building. So this EVS week, we are thrilled to celebrate the people that keep EVS teams running.
We reached out to EVS Departments who use Smart Facility Software to ask them to nominate employees on their team who regularly go above and beyond: the workers who keep showing up every day to create safe, clean, caring environments for their patients, and to create a positive environment for their fellow workers. Over the past few weeks, we had a chance to interview these nominees about why they love their work, and what keeps them motivated to keep doing it.
One common thread emerged: EVS workers love people (and people love them). They see their role as not just to keep buildings clean, but to care for the patients within that building.
Few people embody that heart for people than Tanya Thorton, EVS Tech at SFS client facility CHI St. Joseph in Lexington, Kentucky. We sat down with Tanya Thornton and her managers to talk about trading recipes with patients, going the extra mile for your coworkers, and why hospitals are a great environment for a people person.
“Tanya is phenomenal,” Assistant Director Sarah Roberts says. “She is such a team player. She is who I would [put] on a poster for us. I want to be the best EVS team here at the hospital, and she is the type of person that’s going to get us there. She does her area and her work phenomenally well.”
Before Tanya started working at the hospital, she worked one-on-one with patients in hospice care. But she felt like something was missing. “I think [I was missing] people,” she says. “Because when you’re a home health aide, it’s just you and the patient. So when I came back to the hospital, I was so happy. I felt like I hadn’t seen people in ages.”
“I was shy when I first started,” she remembers, with a smile. “But then everybody greeted me and they were all willing to help. The next day, I was fine.”
Now, Tanya can’t imagine working anywhere else. “I love my job,” she tells us. “Everybody is family here. They’re so nice. It’s just a good place to work. I see lots of people, and I’m a people’s person. I like to talk. Probably too much,” she says, with a laugh.
Tanya’s love for people is one of the things her managers appreciate most about her as a team member. “She is, at heart, a people person: joyful and pleasant and kind and inclusive,” Sarah says.
EVS Director Scott Long agrees. “She always makes us laugh. She’s an inspiration. She comes into work and it’s always positive, she just comes in with a smile and plows right through any situation. It’s great to come to work and have those folks working for you.”
“I just want everybody to be happy,” Tanya says.
“I think I was brought here for a reason. [Back before I worked here], I came here to the hospital with my mom when she was a patient. And I told my aunt, I’m going to get a job here. I must have been on the right path, because ever since I’ve been meeting so many people and talking and helping out. And I love doing it.”
The feeling is clearly mutual; Tanya’s patients love her just as much as she loves them. “Some of my patients will be like where have you been? if I’ve had some days off,” she says, with a laugh. “They tell me they’ve missed me, and ask how my vacation was. It makes me feel appreciated that they notice. I had one patient give me ingredients for dressing, and one that wanted to cook dinner for me––once he’s finished with rehab, he said he’s going to come back and make his famous Philly Cheesesteak for me.”
That sense of warmth and appreciation extends throughout the entire EVS team. “They are so wonderful,” Tanya says of her team members. “They’re quick to jump in and help with no question. Some days, there might be a time that you need help, and they might not even know that you really need it, but they’ll be right there. I have a friend, Alberta, who’s always coming over to see if I need anything and I do the same with her. Sometimes if we get discharged real late, we’ll team up and knock it out so we can both leave on time.”
Tanya’s managers say that she sets the tone for helping out team members. “She’s always looking to help other people,” Sarah says. “When we have members of our team that are hurting or in need, she’s always the first one to say hey, let me help with that. She has a true servant’s heart.”
One example of Tanya’s servant’s heart in action was when she and the rest of the team threw a baby shower for a coworker. “She had never had one, and she cried, and it made me feel so good,” Tanya told us. “And then I babysat her kids when she had her baby, and now they call me Auntie. I’ve been adopted! I have nieces and nephews now,” she says, laughing.
“My team is my family away from family,” she says. “That’s how I look at it.”
We hope you found the stories of the EVS workers who keep hospitals across the country running as inspiring as we did. And if you haven’t already, be sure to thank an EVS member for their work this week.