Not All Heroes Wear Capes
Our new normal: Temperature screening before each shift starts by the Supervisor in charge
All suited-up: Devigah Krishnavani Permal, 39, a front line worker who is responsible for cleaning and disinfecting hospitals stationed at Hospital Sungai Siput in Perak
High Spirits in Check: Adhering to strict protocols, hospital front line workers in full PPE smiled for the camera
While appropriate PPE safeguards the well-being of our front liners, many seek emotionally and mentally comforting ways to continue delivering their daily responsibilities throughout the current crisis
Extremely busy and scary. That’s how UEM Edgenta’s (“UEM Edgenta” or “Company”) personnel at the front lines describe their work, as they fight to keep hospitals clean and disinfected to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Knowing that the virus can remain active up to three days on almost any visible surface in their work environment, motivates them further to ensure hospital surfaces are clean round the clock. The hospital cleaners are worried that in their attempt to eliminate all traces of the virus they, too, may become infected. But that has not stopped them from coming to work. To shed light on what it is really like being at the forefront of this pandemic, BERNAMA spoke to several of the Company’s hospital support services front liners from its wholly owned subsidiary, Edgenta UEMS Sdn. Bhd. (“Edgenta UEMS”), who shared how they safeguard themselves physically and emotionally, to continue delivering their daily routines throughout the current crisis.

“One can’t run away from feeling scared or anxious, especially when more people are coming to the hospital thinking they have the symptoms; we are faced with the challenging task to keep up with the increasing number of people in the building. It has been extremely busy, more tiring than usual, and I get to see my family less now. But when I think about it again, this is how I get to help my country. Malaysia is my home, and I want to help her. Being part of the hospital support services, as a cleaner is how I can do this”, said Devigah Krishnavani Permal, 39, a front line worker responsible for cleaning and disinfecting hospitals who is stationed at Hospital Sungai Siput in Perak.

According to Devigah, they are swamped, especially since the hospitals have stepped up its cleaning regime to deal with COVID-19, by implementing a more enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocol.

“So, we [hospital cleaners] are cleaning, cleaning and coming back and cleaning again. We are just trying to keep it as spotless as possible, given the situation we have in the hospitals with people coming and going,” said Devigah.

Adhering to enhanced protocols

Just before the Movement Control Order (“MCO”) was announced by the Malaysian Government, health screenings in offices and work environments were starting to become a norm, with many organisations implementing temperature checks at building entrances and making hand sanitisers available on all floors of a building. Hospitals too, no less, have been tightening up their protocols since the start of the pandemic, including more checks, procedures, and guidelines that all medical personnel must adhere to, including the caretakers.

“We have been complying with protocols during this crisis and adhering to it diligently. It is normal for people to panic during times like this. Every morning when we have our briefings, we are reminded of the importance of following these protocols and the impact they bring. We know and understand that to safeguard ourselves from contracting COVID-19, we have to follow these protocols,” said Devigah.

“Before entering the building to start work, we are required to undergo temperature screening as this is part of the management’s preventive measures that we have to comply with to ensure everyone’s safety. Anyone who has been asked to isolate or quarantine themselves have obeyed the instruction given by the Infection Control personnel in charge.

I understand that we must practice precaution and my supervisor has always ensured my friends, colleagues and myself understand the standard operating procedures (SOPs) related to the job. Failure to adhere is non-tolerable as we are dealing with people’s lives. We have a simple yet very important job which is to keep this facility clean for all,” added Devigah.

She also hoped that despite the pandemic, people will remain calm and follow the necessary precautionary steps.

“It’s a process that we have to get used to. But I think it is a necessary addition to our normal routines to ensure that everyone stays safe and have a peace of mind.”

This duty ensures that she is doing her part in overcoming the crisis and hopes to mitigate the spread. “We have seen many people breaking down in fear and even getting angry at the medical personnel as the waiting time is getting longer. We must adhere to our SOPs every day to make sure we contain the outbreak and not let it spread to everyone,” said Devigah.

Devigah has worked at the hospital for nearly 8 years and said the patient count has more than doubled since the outbreak began. She knows a front liner like her will be exposed to a much higher risk of infection especially since her job requires her to clean the “high-risk zones” of the hospital, daily.

Appropriate PPEs is key

“The management has provided us with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) gear as a precautionary measure to safeguard the well-being of all of us but obviously, there is a known shortage. All cleaners are expected to be dressed in full PPE garb. No exceptions are made despite the shortages which have been causing problems for other healthcare facilities. We are lucky to have been able to receive proper PPE from the company which keeps us safe when performing our tasks. I know the company I work for is working hard to ensure all of us receive adequate equipment since we are constantly exposed to unclean materials in the course of our duties,” added Devigah.

As the nation grips with the COVID-19 outbreak, supplies are dwindling, with rations hard to come by. Norliza Aziz, 55, a supervisor at one of the hospitals in Kedah, is one of the personnel making sure workers affected with the supply shortage, at least have their lunches taken care of.

“Apart from ensuring the safety, health and well-being of our front line personnel at all times, the Company also provides meals throughout the day. It’s been tough for some of them to have lunch during the MCO period with all the eateries closed. Thankfully, we are not affected by it, at least during work. Healthcare workers need to be in good shape for their daily shifts round the clock. I think it is important for us to be supplied with food and rations daily as it has been an exhausting effort to manage our work for the past few weeks.”

“We love our jobs, we are good at our jobs, we have been well-trained to do our jobs. And we are ready to do them,” said Norliza. “Most of all we need to be kept safe so that we can do them and to feel safe is by having the appropriate PPE,” added Norliza.

Amidst this COVID-19 pandemic, Edgenta UEMS, together with Edgenta Mediserve Sdn. Bhd. (“Edgenta Mediserve”) has proactively implemented strict procedures to safeguard the health and safety of its employees delivering hospital support services to the Ministry of Health Malaysia, including the use of prescribed PPE. The Company believes in putting the safety and the welfare of its employees first, as they continue to join in the fight and making sure the optimal environment for everyone since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

After all, not all heroes wear capes.


© 2020 UEM Edgenta Berhad 196301000166 (5067-M). All Rights Reserved.
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