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Unsung heroes | Hospital workers create safe spaces for patients, medical staff behind the scenes

Beyond the front lines, there are hospital staff members we often don't hear about. They're responsible for creating safe conditions around hospitals.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Everyone chooses a career path and that path could lead you on a journey.

After nearly 20 years of working in environmental services at hospitals, Dennis Eaton’s journey could not have prepared him for what 2020 would bring.

“You know, I’ve always said these people who don’t believe this virus is real, they need to come to a hospital and actually see what’s going on,” he said. You know – actually seeing the nurses working with the patient, seeing how hard they work, and how hard we work cleaning the rooms.”

Eaton walks the halls at UofL’s Mary and Elizabeth Hospital daily, his crucial role sometimes invisible to the outside world.

“Every day I come in here and think ‘what can I do to help out?’ – make sure everything is set for the doctors and the nurses,” he said.

Eaton is the reason healthcare workers have a safe space to treat their patients. The reason patients have a clean and comfortable room.

“What we do, we do for the patients. They’re the number one reason we’re here,” he explained.” “But every time I go into a room with a patient on a ventilator that really kind of gets to you. You know that they can’t breathe on their own or they are having trouble breathing. And that really gets to you, it makes you thank your lucky stars that you’re healthy.”

Credit: WHAS-TV
Dennis Eaton

He has seen it all, but many people don’t see him. Some would call Eaton an unsung hero.

“It’s just part of the job,” Eaton said.

His job has changed tremendously over the last two decades. They do more thorough cleaning than they used to do meaning they also spend more time with patients suffering through COVID-19.

“It’s pretty hard because of the fact that we could go in and out and they can’t,” Eaton said. “We’ve got more freedom then they do and we feel sorry for them because of the fact that they can’t.”

Eaton said those who don’t believe the virus is real should visit a hospital.

When choosing this path, Eaton and thousands of others like him never imagined this journey but its changed their lives.

It’s also deemed them worthy of a new title – heroes.

Contact reporter Jessie Cohen at JCohen@whas11.com and follow her on TwitterFacebook or Instagram

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