09 MAY 2022

Sunshine Bright for Central Sterile

In Central Sterile, there are no windows to the outside world and it’s not easy to let a little sun shine in. But the Secret Ray of Sunshine penetrated all those barriers when the Central Sterile team was honored with a special surprise April 12.

All 20 staff members and managers were presented with a card, a pin, a certificate, some balloons, Clif bars and a letter highlighting their extensive work through the dark days of the pandemic.

“We think we can all agree, a little ray of sunshine is welcome,” read the letter.Members of the Central Sterile team surround manager Darlene Capenhurst (center, with balloons) and Katie Lydon, senior director for Perioperative Services (at left) after receiving a Secret Ray of  Sunshine on a sunny afternoon.

“We know that you’ve been going above and beyond at NorthBay Medical Center and NorthBay VacaValley Hospital to make our world clean as can be and safe for every patient and for your colleagues, every day, 24/7/365!” it continued. “During the pandemic, you’ve had to learn strange new tasks, master the ins and outs of new equipment, deal with supply shortages and the frayed nerves of your colleagues across the system. You’ve reduced hours, added hours, donned and doffed PPE, learned every new protocol, and CAPRs? O.M.G!”

Katie Lydon (left) listens as Central Sterile Manager Darlene Capenhurst reads the Sunshine letter to her crew.Darlene Capenhurst, manager of Central Sterile, invited her team to gather in the space outside the NorthBay Medical Center Shaw Family kitchen on a warm afternoon and read the letter aloud.

Some of the highlights?

  • “Your small but mighty team (fewer than two dozen) had to ebb and flow with the ever-changing surgery schedule. The pandemic may have slowed us down, but certainly didn’t stop us – or you – from keeping everything safe and ready for action.
  • “Once shifts were canceled, the need for crash carts exploded. You were good stewards of the budget during lean times and we all know the demands were overwhelming!
  • “When the going got tough and we had a shortage of nurses, many of you stepped up to be safety attendants on the floors, from the Emergency Department to med-surge areas, to help with the strain.
  • “Were you wearing your super hero capes when you made sure that all crash carts were updated with drapes for COVID patient transfers? We heard those drapes were so in-demand that you had to restock and restock.
  • “The long and detailed inventory list for the COVID emergency bag was staggering… You had to make sure all 42 crash carts were ready daily. And with so many items on back-order, we don’t know how you made it work.”

And then, when it came to CAPRs, aka Continuous Air Purifying Resuscitators, the letter acknowledge how it was a challenge not only to keep them clean but juggling the ever-growing demand.

“We only have 30 units at NorthBay and 15 at VacaValley, and Melissa Manry (right) hands out cards following the Secret Ray of Sunshine presentation.personnel who don’t fit an N-95 have to wear one. It seemed everyone who came face-to-face with COVID patients — from doctors to nurses — also wanted one, especially during the surges. And departments wanted boxes of face shields, too, but then came the nationwide shortage,” it read. “Somehow you got us through the worst of times.”

The letter went on to say, “Your NorthBay family should know about your steadfast dedication, so we can pay our respect to the incredible work you are doing each and every day. Our gift is meager: a certificate and a little goodie for every employee on the team and a pin. But the appreciation is enormous and genuine!”

It was signed by PR and “The Secret Sunshiners,” a mysterious group of individuals at NorthBay that teamed up with the Public Relations team to spread sunshine around the organization.

Members of the Central Sterile team surround manager Darlene Capenhurst (center, with balloons) and Katie Lydon, senior director for Perioperative Services (at left) after receiving a Secret Ray of  Sunshine on a sunny afternoon.The crew from Central Sterile was touched by the random and unexpected act.

“It is nice to be acknowledged, said Paty Rodriguez, Central Services tech. “We’re kind of hidden here. But it means a lot that someone took the time to say those things about us. I wasn’t expecting it.”

Samantha Willmscshen, also a tech, agreed.

“It has been a stressful two years and it is nice to be noticed and appreciated for what we have done.”

Sandra Sanchez, a tech II, said she’d been a part of the department for 23 years.

“There have been a lot of changes over that time. We’re a small group and we were overwhelmed at times, but we made it,” she said. “We take a lot of pride in our jobs. It’s always about the safety of the patient.”

This is the second sunshine award presented in April. The first award was presented to Unit 1800 on April 8. The group has promised to continue dropping in and surprising NorthBay’s hard-working teams across the continuum.

“It’s very nice to be recognized for the hard work that is put into running the Central Sterile processing department every day to support patient safety in this organization,” said Darlene. “There are so many little things that go on, that we are responsible for. It feels great to be recognized. My team works hard.”


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