A day in the life of a linen services technician

Jun 20, 2017, 06:16 AM by KirstiAnn Clifford
Glynnis Glover, a linen services tech, restocks a scrub machine, which dispenses various sizes of scrubs to faculty, residents and students. Glynnis050 fixed
Glynnis Glover doesn’t need an alarm clock to wake up for her 3 a.m. shift—she’s naturally full of energy and looks forward to each new day.

“Good morning, ma’am! Hello, sir!” Glynnis Glover says enthusiastically to each person she passes in Jennie Sealy Hospital on the Galveston Campus.

As a linen services technician with UTMB’s Laundry Depart­ment, Glover is used to getting an early start. The department is responsible for ensuring UTMB campuses and clinics have clean and adequate supplies of various hospital linens at all times. Last year alone, Glover and her team sorted and delivered 3.4 mil­lion pounds of medical linens, including scrubs, patient gowns and bedding.

I meet up with her around 4 a.m. on a Tuesday morning in May. The Laundry Department occu­pies a large room in the Clinical Services Wing (CSW), where they keep linen in bulk. While my sleepy eyes fight to stay open, Glover runs circles around me, loading up a big blue cart with various types of linen to deliver to a hospital unit. She’s already visited more than a dozen areas of John and Jennie Sealy hospitals to count how many linens were used through the night and is headed out to restock the diminished reserves.

“Every hospital unit or clinic has a ‘standard sheet’ that lists how many bed sheets, pillow cases, patient gowns and other items they need to have on hand, so we go by that,” says Glover. “There are three linen techs who count, build and deliver to units on the Galveston Campus. Every morning, we count how many items the units have and make sure we fill up their stocks to the standard number. We enter the information into a handheld device that is then uploaded to a central database.”

The first unit Glover delivers to is the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in John Sealy. In addition to hundreds of blankets and one­sies, she’s loaded 450 cloth diapers onto her mobile cart.

“As you can see, each unit has dif­ferent items they need stocked,” she says after counting all the items and double-checking her list to make sure she has everything. “Ready to roll?”

Glynnis001Glover’s strength and ability to maneuver the large linen cart becomes apparent as we head from the CSW toward John Sealy Hos­pital. As we approach an inclined hallway, she skillfully transitions from behind the cart to the front to ensure the cart doesn’t hit a wall or go speeding down the slope. The early work start makes it easier to transport the cart through hospital hallways.

“Once physicians and residents arrive around 7 a.m., the hallways are much busier and more complicated to navigate,” says Glover. “I’m the only female linen tech who hauls these big carts around campus. It’s a lot of walking! I love it, though. No complaints.”

When Glover first joined UTMB eight years ago, she worked in UTMB’s laundry facility in League City, where she would sort soiled gowns, linens and more. It was a full-service facili­ty, with sorting, washing, drying and folding stations. In 2010, UTMB joined the Texas Medical Center (TMC) Hospital Laundry Cooperative Association. Since then, TMC Laundry (located in Houston) delivers clean linen in bulk and picks up soiled linen from UTMB’s Lipton Tea Building in Galveston five days a week. About seven UTMB employees work out of Lipton Tea, which serves as the hub for laundry coming in and going out.

When we arrive at the NICU, Glover rings a bell for a nurse to let us in to the patient area. Once inside, she opens the doors to a linen closet, restocks items and fills a warmer by the nurses station with fresh blankets for swaddling pint-sized patients.

“I have about 15 units I deliver to each day, as well as clinics like radiology and Glynnis207oncology,” she says. “My favorite part of the job is meeting people—I get to know all the hospital staff and it’s easy to make friends, really. I always try to give them what they ask for and keep everybody happy. If people need something on the weekends, we have someone on call—usually one of our drivers who goes to and from the Lipton Tea building.”

Glover also is responsible for restocking three scrub machines, which dispense various sizes of scrubs to faculty, residents and students by the push of a button. She gathers soiled scrubs from a drop-box in Labor and Delivery before opening the door to the scrub machine, which has rows of clean, neatly rolled scrubs.

As she restocks the machine, she keeps an eye on quality control.

“If I see any scrubs that don’t look good—like they still have stains even after being washed—I’ll put them aside to send back to TMC,” Glover says. “I only stock the machine with ones that are nice and clean, fresh and not faded—because we want our students and doctors to look perfect."

Glynnis154For the rest of the morning, we make dozens of trips from the linen room in the CSW to units all over the hospital—from cardiology, general medicine and the medical intensive care unit on the top floors of Jennie Sealy, to day surgery on the ground floor and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice holding unit, which is where offenders are held before and after surgery. She spends time making sure every linen closet is organized and neat, so medical staff can easily find what they need.

When we arrive at each unit, it’s clear that Glover is well-liked by nursing staff. Some nurses provide unsolicited compliments, describing how hardworking and pleasant Glover is to work with.

Debbie Incalcaterra, administrative manager for the UTMB Laundry Department, said Glover and the rest of the laundry team are some of UTMB’s unsung heroes, who do a lot of work behind-the-scenes to ensure patients have a safe and comfortable stay.
Glover with some of her colleagues in UTMB Laundry: (L-R) Reginald Thomas, J.J. Smith, Reggal Foreman, Glynnis Glover, Raymond Reyes, Junior Martinez and Debbie Incalcaterra.
“Without linen, you can’t put a patient in a bed,” says Incalcaterra. “Glynnis and the rest of of the UTMB Laundry staff make sure there are always adequate supplies of clean linen to promote a sterile, healing environment. This helps nurses care for their patients safely and efficiently. Our staff is very dependable and they don’t miss days
from work—it would be easy to call in sick for a 3 a.m. shift, but they never do.”

I part ways with Glover as she prepares a few final carts to be delivered to UTMB-TDCJ Hospital Galveston. It can be an exhausting job, but Glover still has bounce in her step when she heads home around 11 a.m. She’ll stay busy for the rest of the day—taking in one of her nephew’s baseball games and transporting an elderly couple she knows to doctor appointments. Then, she’ll go to bed early so she can do it all over again.

“I like to be busy, that’s just me,” says Glover. “Life is too short—you’ve got to enjoy life. I love my job and how I am able to help people. We don’t stop until the job is done."