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Mum’s the word for domestic who cleaned up COVID-19

31 July 2020

A 26 year-old domestic cleaner who works in Ealing Hospital’s A&E department has shared his experience after he was reassigned to the Rapid Response Team during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust (LNWH) provides hospital and community services to the people of Harrow, Brent and Ealing. Established on 1 October 2014, our team of 9,000 clinical and support staff serve a diverse population of approximately one million people.

When the Coronavirus pandemic first hit the UK, non-clinical hospital staff like domestic cleaner Engelbert Camilleri were tasked with ‘terminal cleans’ of areas where Covid-positive patients had been assessed.

Camilleri said: “We’d been training for several weeks including putting on and taking off PPE equipment and were all a bit concerned about what to expect.

“I remember my bleeper going off one morning asking me to clean a room that had just been vacated by a suspected Covid patient and I thought here we go.”

Camilleri and several colleagues that he was training put on their protective equipment and went to work with the aid of chlorinated products.

“It took us about 30 minutes the first time. The trickiest is theatres because there is a lot of equipment to clean and several side rooms off the main operating area.”

All the PPE and cleaning equipment were disposed of after each terminal clean to minimise the risk of cross contamination.

Camilleri and his colleagues were carrying out  numerous cleans per shift during the peak of the first wave in April 2020.

He continued: “It was stressful to start with but you like all the other staff. We’re a big family at the end of the day and we got through it together.

“I was always careful and when I got home from my shift immediately put all my clothes in the wash. The first thing my mum said was ‘wash your hands!’ It’s obviously worked because I haven’t been sick throughout the whole time.

“It’s been an experience but we got through it and now have only a handful of cases. We don’t know if and when a second wave will come, but we’ve got through it once so know we can do it again."