While physicians and ICU nurses may be in the spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are first to admit it takes a team to provide exceptional care, every patient, every time.
These “unsung heroes” include Valleywise Health’s sterile processing professionals, responsible for decontaminating patient care equipment, cleaning and sterilizing surgical instruments and dispensing sterile supplies throughout the health care system.
Throughout the pandemic, members of Valleywise Health’s sterile processing team came to work 24/7 365 days a year.
“Central Sterile is the heartbeat of the OR,” said Nicole Jones, Nurse Manager of Perioperative Services. “Without a high functioning, dedicated group of individuals, the organization is at risk for not running smoothly, the operating room suffers in throughput, efficiency and volume and patient safety could be at risk.”
One of those professionals, Philip Hinchcliff, is retiring at the end of November after working for Valleywise Health for 42 years.
Hinchcliff, who began his career here in 1979, said working for Valleywise Health has always felt “more like a family than a company. If felt very nice.”
Hinchcliff is part of a team of 20 sterile processing professionals who work in the basement of Valleywise Health Medical Center.
Supervisor Salvador “Sal” Sandoval said these behind the scene specialists make a difference in patient care every day.
“We touch everybody indirectly,” he said. “We take pride in knowing that we do the best job we possibly can and that we play a role in every successful surgery when the patient is able to leave happier and healthier as a directly result of our teamwork.”
Central Sterile Services provides support to the operating room as well as 14 outlying departments and clinics. On average, they process 36,000 single packaged items and 27,660 complex instrument sets.
“This dedicated group of staff are responsible for maintaining the highest professional practice standards when it comes to the sterilization and procurement of instrumentation in a department that runs 24/7, 365 days a year. All of them in my mind are unsung heroes every day!” Jones said.