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Housekeepers with Heart: Forming Family Bonds

Thelma Jackson, environmental services technician and towel animal extraordinaire, shares a fun moment with Jasmine at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

A normal day as a housekeeper at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital doesn’t just consist of keeping the hospital pristine and clean. The job often goes much deeper–to a meaningful level of connecting with patients and families.

“I’m in the business of saving the lives of the children of our community and their parents see that,” says housekeeper Thelma Jackson. “It’s very easy to start a conversation that grows into relationships. I want to make the patient and families feel more at ease while they are here.”

Jackson is proud to be serving Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital as a housekeeper on the Environmental Services team. In fact, one relationship in particular has really touched her heart–and that’s the special bond she has with 2-year-old Corbin who is battling medulloblastoma, a type of pediatric brain cancer.

“The first time I saw Corbin there was something different and I just seem to connect more and more with him,” Jackson explains. “I can’t help but love these children that I clean for.”

That means a lot to Corbin’s dad, Nicholas, who has a deep appreciation for Thelma.

“She’s sweet and wonderful and always very kind and courteous. She is always trying to interact with Corbin even though he might not feel great. She always is trying to make him smile. It’s awesome.”

Customer service and a positive attitude are the key requirements to joining Environmental Services at Johns Hopkins All Children’s, which is ranked high nationally in customer service and cleanliness by Press Ganey.

“That’s really where we make our mark. Our housekeepers build strong relationships with our families and patients because they engage in conversations every day, and interact in a great way,” Director of Environmental Services Michael Dansberger says.

“They are responsible for going through and keeping the hospital clean and disinfected for all of our children in the community that come here as patients and their families and for our staff,” Dansberger says.

And of course, going the extra mile to make them feel comfortable–or even smile, like with a cute towel animal to greet the families upon their arrival here, and creating that special bond of caring and compassion.

“You feel like they actually care and want to be here and want to take care of you,” Nicholas says. “They always seem to be willing to do everything they can to make you feel as comfortable and as happy as you can be, and that is really, really wonderful.”