‘You can always count on us’ – celebrating our cleaners on Cleaners Day

Mount Druitt Hospital patient services assistant Janette Flanagan at a cleaner’s day celebration.

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) has today celebrated International Cleaners Day and the amazing cleaners who go above and beyond their responsibilities to support our health services.

Clapping ceremonies, morning and afternoon teas, late night meals for night shifts, gift giving and heartfelt speeches took place across the district.

The army of 430 cleaners at WSLHD work day and night shifts to keep our hospitals and services clean and ready for patients and visitors. From waiting areas to operating theatres, dedicated staff are working to keep our facilities clean.

Westmead Hospital general services staff at a luncheon. Raynelle, Kinnari and Virondi are pictured here with letters from primary school students.

In an environment where the standards of hygiene need to be one of the highest, cleaners play a critical role in reducing bacteria and risk of spreading viruses… but aside from their main role as general service providers, our cleaners are so much more than that.

Familiar with every corner of our services like no one else, cleaners often assist visitors with wayfinding.

One morning, Westmead Hospital cleaner Joey Franji helped a lady in labor to get to the maternity unit safely.

“I was working in the main lobby when I saw this couple arrive at the entrance,” Joey said.

“They were scared and looked lost – the lady was having contractions. I saw an unoccupied wheelchair parked in the corner and knew exactly what I had to do.

“We put her in the wheelchair and in a few minutes she was in safe hands of our midwives. She was so relieved. It is one of my favourite memories.”

Joey said he enjoys the corporate culture at WSLHD.

Students from Westmead Public School sent more than 300 letters to Westmead Hospital’s cleaners, expressing their gratitude for their hard work and bravery while battling COVID-19.

“When there is an occasion, I am always the first one to start setting up and the last one to pack when it’s over,” Joey said.

“I love being a part of community. Having worked in all areas in Westmead, I know everyone and everyone knows me. Westmead is my happy place.”

Christine King has been a patient service assistant in Mount Druitt Palliative Care unit for seven years. For her, daily interaction with patients and their families is something she loves the most about her role.

“If I can put a smile on someone’s face, or make people laugh – I am happy. I will go home satisfied,” Christine said.

Mount Druitt Hospital general services assistants Nokh Khadka and Frances McEwen.

Talking about the most memorable episodes in her career, Christine told us how she found her second family.

“A couple of years ago I was taking care of a lovely older lady,” Christine said.

“Her family appreciated my help so much, they decided to adopt me as their fourth sister!

“They asked to keep in touch with me and we still exchange messages on special occasions.”

Sharon Hando has been working in Westmead Hospital’s Emergency Department for 16 years. With COVID-19, their workload has increased, but their team made it look effortless.

“It’s all about team work. We make changes every day, together,” Sharon said.

Mount Druitt Hospital patient service assistant Christine King.

“If it’s for cleaning services, or making patients smile – you can always count on us,” Sharon said.

Westmead Hospital Corporate Services acting director Renata Melan said she was touched by this lovely gesture from the kids.

“I am happy to see how much appreciation our staff has received today,” Renata said.

“It is well-deserved, they all work incredibly hard.”

Celebrations will continue until mid-week with Blacktown Hospital staff hosting a high tea ceremony on Wednesday.

Happy International Cleaners Day! Thank you for your hard work. We are safe because of you!