‘They call us heroes': Local frontline worker works behind the scenes to keep patients safe during COVID-19

Watch: 'They call us heroes': Local frontline worker works behind the scenes

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A local unsung hero worked tirelessly behind the scenes during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep people safe.

Wanda Smith has worked at Germantown Methodist for 12 years as an environmental services employee.

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She played a crucial role on the coronavirus frontlines by cleaning the rooms that patients were taken into and by making sure it was a safe environment.

“When I get up me and my husband we say our prayer,” said Smith.

Before and after stepping foot inside Germantown Methodist Hospital, she prepared for the emotional challenges she’ll soon face.

“Me and the colleagues, we meet in our huddle and we start off with a prayer,” Smith said.

Smith has faced challenges during her 12 years of service but it was heightened with COVID-19.

She was just one of the numerous people tasked with keeping rooms clean for patients in the Mid-South.

Smith was a part of the essential group as an environmental service employee.

While cleanliness was at a heightened awareness across the country, it was nothing new for Smith and her fellow EVS workers.

Maintaining a clean space inside the hospital was even more critical.

“It buckle down a little more now,” Smith said. “So, we’ve just got to be a little stricter and professional in what we’re doing with the patients and stuff.”

Smith believed it was deeper than cleaning because EVS workers develop relationships with patients they clean for.

“Just to try to support them as much as we can and for us to just put our feelings to the side to be there for them,” she said.

This meant being there when family members couldn’t.

Smith said the mental and emotional toll of being on the frontlines was real but the purpose in it outweighed everything.

“It’s a great feeling to keep them uplifted,” she said. “It’s a great feeling to be a part of their family when their family is not here with them.”

From 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., five days a week, Smith walked the hallways.

She knew the health of those she encountered was dependent upon her work and that was not lost on patients.

“They call us heroes,” she said. “They’ll tell us you’re still a hero no matter what.”

Smith wasn’t the only frontline worker in her family.

She has a child who works at The Village and two others who work at Kroger.

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