In hospitals, housekeepers are truly the ‘keepers of the house’

Malcolm cleans patient rooms and offices in the large medical center where we both work as pediatric doctors.

After finishing our respective rounds one afternoon, we noticed that Malcolm was deep in conversation with the parents of one of our very sick patients. We met him later in the hall, and the three of us began to talk. After Malcolm told us a bit about the concerns of our patient’s family, he mentioned the ways he often supports and cares for the children being treated on our ward.

“I don’t call myself a housekeeper,” said Malcolm, who has been with the hospital for 10 years. “I am the keeper of the house.”

Malcolm’s description of what he does knocked us back on our heels. It made us realize that we pass dozens of housekeepers in the corridors and elevators every day and — like most other physicians — pay little attention to what they really do and had little appreciation of their contributions to patient care.

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