Faces of Cedars-Sinai: Environmental Services Technician Christoffer Smith
Jul 27, 2020 Cedars-Sinai Staff
Meet Christoffer Smith, an Environmental Services technician at Cedars-Sinai.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of sanitation in keeping patients safe, underscoring the role of Environmental Services (EVS) technicians like Christoffer. Healthcare providers' ability to protect patients—and serve them safely—hinges on the work of technicians who clean rooms and other areas around the hospital.
I'm having a greater awareness that we're in this together as Cedars-Sinai employees. No matter what profession, we're in this together.
We caught up with Christoffer to see how he has adapted during these challenging times and what he does to decompress.
How has COVID-19 changed your job?
Christoffer Smith: We have to do to the best of our abilities what's necessary to make sure the room is clean and sanitized.
When we discharge COVID-19 patients, we have to gown up, wear a mask, wear protective gloves—then we have a face shield that we use. Cedars-Sinai makes me feel safe by providing the necessary equipment and gowns that we have now.
I've also had multiple trainings on how to clean the room properly and more thoroughly during COVID-19. Supervisors huddle with the nurses, and then nurse educators offer information to read to protect yourself.
When people come into that situation, no longer is it a normal day.
What has your experience working at Cedars-Sinai during COVID-19 taught you?
CS: I'm having a greater awareness that we're in this together as Cedars-Sinai employees. No matter what profession, we're in this together.
What's your favorite part of being an EVS tech?
CS: I get to help a person who's in need—it can be an employee who's stressed about what they're doing or a patient who's worried. You can make their life a lot easier just by acknowledging who they are and acknowledging they're here for a reason. You can take the opportunity to let them know they're in good hands no matter what.
How do you handle those emotions when you encounter them?
CS: Some nurses are taught to have it all together—not be stressed out, not be worried, not to feel anything—so sometimes I will encounter nurses who feel stressed out, feel worried and don't know how to handle it.
I let them know to talk to a chaplain, talk to your charge nurse. Tell them how you feel. Don't bottle it in. Don't let the situation consume you.
It helps to talk about it. When you open yourself up vulnerably, then you're free of something.
I came across one nurse who was crying but said she was fine. I told her I knew she wasn't fine. I told her, "Keep up the good work. I know it's kind of tough right now, but you're doing something people need."
How do you show those staff and patients that you care?
CS: The best thing you can do is get in a chair so you're not looking down on them. You're looking eye to eye.
Where did you learn that?
CS: My father was in the military. One thing he's always taught me is to be visual—people react toward each other. You can always tell how people speak to you—toward you, not at you—or how they look at you. Their eyes will tell you who they are.
How did his time in the military shape your upbringing?
CS: I'm from Germany, from Berlin, and came to California in 1985. That's what brought me to the States. It shows that there are people just like me trying to make a life better for myself, and I try to have more compassion towards other people who may not be in the position that I'm in.
When I came to California in 1985, I moved to Salinas, and then I moved in 2013. Salinas is not as big as L.A., so what brought me to L.A. was more job opportunities.
You've been there for people at Cedars-Sinai during stressful times. How do you manage stress and relax yourself?
CS: When I'm not working, I enjoy the day. I enjoy the breeze. I like to read. I enjoy taking long walks on the beach with my wife.
My favorite is Hermosa Beach. It's nice and quiet.