Female CEO smiling with her arms crossed

CleanLink.com held a question and answer interview with Laurie Sewell, CEO of Servicon Systems, to gain an understanding of the Culver City, California-based company's commitment to changing the perception of the environmental services (EVS) industry for the better, especially as it pertains to healthcare. The following is the first installment of a three-part series based on those questions surrounding the cleaning company and EVS in general. The second piece will be shared on this website on May 27, and the third piece will go live on June 3.

CleanLink: What should healthcare establishments know about EVS and its relationship to patient care?

Sewell: Environmental Services (EVS) employees are key strategic partners for nurses and medical centers as they provide the safe environment in which lives are saved. This interdependence was felt all the more intensely by patients [due to] COVID.

During the pandemic, the role of EVS workers and nurses was enlarged as they were often the only people patients could interact with during recovery. My daughter was hospitalized in 2020 and I could not visit her. I know first-hand how important “micro moments” with staff were to her recovery and our family’s ease. 

We have stories of patients saying “thank goodness for the EVS employee that came into the room as it was the only person I could talk to all day." Our staff would then report that they felt they played the role of loved ones because others were not allowed in. 

We heard about EVS workers holding up their iPhone so they could speak to their families. This can’t be overlooked, the human, caregiving partnership between healthcare establishments, nurses and EVS workers for patient satisfaction.

CleanLink: What need does Servicon fulfill for its healthcare partners?

Sewell: Our EVS employees provide our partners with peace of mind, knowing that spaces will be cleaned and disinfected in a timely, expert manner with genuine care. 

It’s not just the ‘what’ we provide, but how. Public perception is essential to healthcare centers’ success. Patients and visitors need to see all staff, including EVS workers, doing a great job. Where do they put their dirty rags? Are the trashes emptied? When I see dust bunnies in a hospital I notice. If they can’t get the visible, then what is going on with the invisible?

Hospital acquired infections are down when EVS is successful. Patient turnover is quicker. It’s too easy to overlook these qualitative data points. 

When I had a heart procedure a couple of years ago, I felt the impact of this. I was stuck in the ER with people moaning as I waited for a very long time for the room to free up. EVS employees have a hard job as it is, but when they feel supported and are continuously developed in their field, they provide a truly invaluable service. 

Servicon was established by a true humanitarian and Richard Mahdesdian’s values in caring for people and communities lives on in our culture. Servicon staff achieves rigorous standards in EVS so that doctors and nurses can focus on saving lives.

CleanLink: What did Servicon and yourself learn during the pandemic?

Sewell: We’ve all heard the saying, “culture eats strategy for lunch.” If your [organization] has a culture of trust, expertise and continuous growth, then you can pivot and be successful in the hardest of times. 

Like other companies, we didn’t know what to expect when COVID hit. But we were greatly relieved and reassured that Servicon’s culture was strong and ready when our workforce showed up every day during lockdown. 

We then watched as the world and our clients learned about the need to clean for health versus cleaning for appearance. 

Outside the office, our staff was being treated with greater care, respect and gratitude as frontline workers. To me, this signaled a greater culture shift: from hyper-valuing the new/disruptive to leaning more toward care/consistency. 

As our world innovates and adapts at break-neck speed, we can’t forget how essential – foundational - maintenance work is. 

In our professional environments, our homes, and our relationships: All around the world people woke up to the value of this kind of work, and finally bus drivers, people disposing of our trash, grocery store clerks and countless others were being recognized and appreciated. 

I believe this is one collective learning we can’t forget.