We know how special Unit Assistants and Unit Support Workers are to our health care team, so we made a week to celebrate them! Unit Support Workers (USWs) may not be a classification in a hospital that you know much about, so we profiled one of our members, Mandie, to showcase the vital role they play.
Mandie began working as a USW in a children’s ward of an urban acute care setting at the beginning of the pandemic. She tells us, “I was inspired to work in the hospital and find a way to give back after my husband became significantly ill and spent a very large amount of time in the hospital.” But this new job came with challenges on a personal level. Mandie has a close family member that is immunocompromised, and she had to be careful not to bring anything home from the hospital. After every shift, she had to change clothes before leaving the unit to avoid contact with her family, and often felt like a turtle hauling all of belongings in and out every day. Mandie was thankful that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like gowns, masks, and gloves were in standard use in her unit before the pandemic due to the nature of the patients. The standard PPE and reduced visitors on the ward minimized her exposure to something she could bring home.
Mandie has since become a true jack-of-all-trades, willing to help wherever she can and learn new things on the job. Her day consists of putting the unit back together from a night shift by taking inventory and organizing equipment as well as cleaning, portering patients from other units or parts of the hospital, help with room discharge, and so much more. The day may vary greatly, but Mandie’s helpful attitude keeps her going no matter what is thrown her way. Though she may be more behind the scenes than most, Mandie stands out by wearing exciting uniforms for her patients and says, “I always wear fun uniforms to work that have cartoon characters on them and I like when the kids start to notice things like that again because that means they're starting to feel better!”
Mandie’s job does come with its challenges, and there are a lot of emotions on the floor at any one time as she often sees the most difficult time in a person’s life. But she is also there to witness the triumphs. That is what keeps Mandie and her coworkers going through hard times, being able to see their patients go home.
If you have USWs or UAs in your facility, be sure to reach out to them this week. They work tirelessly to make other jobs within the unit run smoothly. We thank them for their amazing work, dedication to their patients, and all the little things they do to keep their units running as efficiently as possible.