Photo of Antonio Castillo and Teresha Bivins

This EVS Week, we’re recognizing the heroes of Hospital Environmental Services.


We sat down with two House­keep­ing Head Aides from Kaiser Per­ma­nente Valle­jo Med­ical Cen­ter and their man­ag­er to talk about what it was like to start work­ing dur­ing COVID, han­dling sur­prise floods, and treat­ing your patients like fam­i­ly. 

Photo of Antonio Castillo

Antonio Castillo, Housekeeping Head Aide

Anto­nio Castil­lo start­ed in EVS at the height of the pan­dem­ic, after hav­ing spent over 25 years in gro­cery store man­age­ment.

“The week that Anto­nio start­ed he and I ran side by side,” Cort­ney Mar­shall, his man­ag­er, said. “I was the lead at that point, and he was absorb­ing every­thing I was doing. So from day one, he had an edge.”

Though he’s only been work­ing in EVS for eigh­teen months, the knowl­edge that he’s gained in that short time has devel­oped him into a won­der­ful leader, accord­ing to Cort­ney.

“I call him my co-pilot. In stressful situations I can always count on him. He’s one of our main moving parts. We see his name on the schedule, and it puts us at ease.”

“Going from a place that I had worked for 26 years to being a rook­ie, I knew I would have to show humil­i­ty,” Anto­nio said. “Even now, as a lead, I have to show humil­i­ty, because my house­keep­ers in many instances know more than I do. There are peo­ple in our depart­ment who have a wealth of knowl­edge. So if I don’t know some­thing, there are always resources. And that’s real­ly impor­tant, because there are still a lot of things I don’t know.”

Anto­nio start­ed in EVS in Jan­u­ary 2021, when the pan­dem­ic was going strong. “I’d been very for­tu­nate in that I had nev­er encoun­tered it on a per­son­al lev­el, and now all the sud­den I was sur­round­ed by it,” he said. “I wasn’t afraid, per se, but I was very con­cerned because here it was: in real life. So I had to hit the ground run­ning, and learn quick­ly.”

It helped that Anto­nio always feels sup­port­ed by his man­age­ment when issues come up. “It’s a big relief. On the days where I feel like I’m walk­ing a tightrope, I know I have a net under­neath me. They’re always there for me, and they’re very good about let­ting me know that they appre­ci­ate me, and mak­ing me feel val­ued. It’s a real­ly good envi­ron­ment.”

That appre­ci­a­tion shows when things go wrong—like the time the upstairs bath­room in the radi­ol­o­gy depart­ment flood­ed, and water poured into the wait­ing room down­stairs. “That was mem­o­rable because it was my first big calami­ty,” he said, with a laugh. “But the way every­one came togeth­er was awe­some. Nobody daw­dled, every­one just came and did what we had to do. It was all hands on deck: eight of us work­ing togeth­er with four machines to suck up the water. We had squeegees so we could skate the water out of the bath­room into the wait­ing area to suck it all up. It looked like orga­nized chaos,” he said, with a laugh. “But we got it done. Half an hour lat­er, every­thing was cleaned up and gone and we could all just get back to our duties.

“It was a good feeling. Knowing that when something happens, everybody pulls together to take care of business.”

The sense of team­work is a huge part of what keeps Castil­lo moti­vat­ed to keep show­ing up every day. “I’ve always worked, you know? It’s just what I do. I’ve been work­ing since I was 16. I have a wife and five chil­dren, so I need to pro­vide for my fam­i­ly. But the bonus is that I actu­al­ly real­ly enjoy what I do. And that real­ly does make all the dif­fer­ence. I go home at the end of the day feel­ing very good about myself and my job here, because I know I’ve con­tributed.”

Photo of Teresha Bivins

Teresha Bivins, Housekeeping Head Aide

As the full-time lead of the hos­pi­tal, Tere­sha Bivins is “basi­cal­ly the face of the depart­ment,” her man­ag­er, Cort­ney, told us. “She is a huge asset. We real­ly rely on her when we are in tough sit­u­a­tions, and under no sit­u­a­tion has she ever cracked or failed.”

For Tere­sha, her work always comes back down to the patient. “For me, it’s one patient at a time, one room at a time, one prob­lem at a time.”

Knowing that she can make a difference in saving a patient’s life, and being there for them during difficult moments, is what keeps Teresha motivated to keep coming into work every day.

“Dur­ing the height of COVID, when there were no vis­i­tors, the only peo­ple patients would see were [clin­i­cal] staff and EVS,” she said. “So I felt like it was my job to go in there and make them as com­fort­able and safe and hap­py as pos­si­ble. That’s what drove me to want to come to work.

“You want to treat each room and each patient like they’re your own fam­i­ly mem­ber. If your fam­i­ly mem­bers were to come in, you wouldn’t want them to be in a place that was dirty. You want to treat them as if it was your moth­er, your child, your father.”

Her man­ag­er, Cort­ney, told us that Tere­sha was invalu­able when it came to sup­port­ing and set­ting the exam­ple for her fel­low work­ers dur­ing COVID. “We were in such a stress­ful time, and she just set the tone for every­one. She’s always been an over­all exam­ple of how things should be done. She real­ly bridges the gap between man­age­ment and employ­ees. Her peers can go to her for any­thing.”

“COVID was one of my biggest challenges,” Teresha said. “Everybody was scared. We didn’t understand what was happening: watching the news, seeing the body count, there was so much fear of just going into the room, thinking you were going to get COVID. But we had to go inside the room. We had to clean it and disinfect it properly so we could stop the spread.”

The train­ing and sup­port she received went a long way in mak­ing her feel more at ease. “Once we were prop­er­ly trained, I had the skills and knowl­edge to train oth­er peo­ple and make them feel com­fort­able as well. I was also able to take some skills home with me to make my fam­i­ly feel safe, too.” It helped that she always felt that she had the sup­port of her team. “They’re always on my side to sup­port me, and to help me under­stand every­thing that I need to know to help peo­ple and keep them safe,” she said.

Still, she wish­es that more peo­ple under­stood the role that EVS played dur­ing the height of the pan­dem­ic. “You know, EVS was on the front lines, and a lot of peo­ple didn’t rec­og­nize that,” she told us. “Peo­ple would call out the nurs­es and the fire­fight­ers, but EVS played a very impor­tant role and some­times they get over­looked. But know­ing for myself the part that I played in it, that I could help save a life: it meant a lot to me.”

Look­ing back, she feels proud­er than ever of her work in EVS, and the dif­fer­ence she’s made—and con­tin­ues to make—in patients’ lives. 

“I don’t have to be a nurse and I don’t have to be a doc­tor,” she says. “I am still a hero, and I am still sav­ing lives. That’s enough for me.”

Happy EVS Week! If you’d like to learn more about how we can support your team, give us a call anytime at 800–260-8665, ext. 108 or email