WASHINGTON, Missouri - Hundreds of health care providers across the country work behind-the-scenes to enhance patient experience. One of those co-workers, Mary Schnelle, an environmental services tech at Mercy Hospital Washington, was recently honored with a national award for going above and beyond.
Cintas created the annual C.A.P.E. Awards (Cleaning to Advance the Patient Experience) program to recognize EVS technicians as superheroes and the ongoing efforts of housekeeping professionals to maintain clean environments. Schnelle is one of only 10 honorees nationwide.
Schnelle was awe struck when she learned she was being recognized. She was presented with a $2,500 check from Cintas and the hospital received an additional $2,500 to go toward an organization or department of its choice. When asked for a suggestion on how the hospital should use its $2,500 prize, she requested it be directed to the Mercy Health Foundation Washington to support a new hospital for the community.
She said, “I don’t do this for the recognition. I’m here to do what is best for my patients.”
With Mercy for four years, Schnelle takes pride in her work and serves as a preceptor for new EVS co-workers. She works in the intensive care unit and even during the height of COVID never backed down from any housekeeping needs on the floor. She stepped up to encourage her peers saying, “It’s our time to do our part and be the infection preventionists for the hospital and the patients we serve.”
In addition to cleaning, Schnelle served COVID patients and family members when they were separated by a glass door.
“She became an advocate for these patients when their loved ones could not,” said Kodi Gildehaus, manager of support services at Mercy Washington. “Especially when they were lying prone or on ventilators. She would speak to them while she cleaned.”
She made a lasting impact on one patient who had a grim prognosis. She talked with the patient while she was cleaning and told the patient her husband was just outside the room, that he cared for her and was there. The husband later said he noticed his wife’s blood pressure and other vital signs improved when Schnelle was there. The patient fully recovered, and her husband shared his gratitude. He said it was a miracle his wife fought through; he attributes her recovery in part to Schnelle’s kind words and gestures.
Ten winners from across the country were selected for the annual award. In addition to the money, Schnelle will also receive a Rubbermaid charging bucket with Rubbermaid products inside and a scholarship to be trained and certified in the Association for the Healthcare Environment program for herself and another Mercy co-worker.
Gildehaus said, “We are truly blessed for all Mary does to serve our hospital and our patients. The love she gives is seen by her fellow co-workers in all departments. She does more than just clean; she is an asset to our ministry work and everyone she serves.”