Mandarino and Hawkins
Anthony Mandarino, (L), and Bradley Hawkins, work on FM-PRO's Linen and Laundry Services team. (Photo: UHN)

Support Services Week is Oct. 23 to 27. To celebrate, UHN News is shining a spotlight on the employees who make up Support Services within the Facilities Management – Planning, Redevelopment & Operations (FM-PRO) Department.

From housekeeping staff to building operators, these are important members of TeamUHN.

Together, these teams keep UHN sites running – from making sure all public, staff and patient areas are cleaned and disinfected, to maintaining air handling units so clean, fresh air circulates, and much more.

Support Services is an integral part of the frontline, keeping UHN sites reliable, comfortable, sustainable and safe, so UHN can continue transforming lives and communities through excellence in patient care, research and education.

Here's a closer look at some of the teams:

Linen & Laundry

Toronto General Hospital's Linen and Laundry Services team recently switched its deliveries and pick ups to overnight – and thanks to employees such Bradley Hawkins, who work the night shift on the linen delivery team, it's been smooth sailing.

Linen and Laundry Services, part of FM-PRO, delivers clean linen, such as isolation gowns, bed sheets and blankets, to units across all sites. They also collect soiled linen and deliver them to the basement where they are shipped out to be laundered off site.

"While this time change may not seem like a big deal, it's made the team much more efficient, successful – and has even saved costs," says Sandra Macalister, Manager, Transportation, Linen & Mail Services with FM-PRO.

With deliveries now taking place overnight, the linen service provider doesn't get stuck in Toronto traffic and the Linen & Laundry team doesn't have to navigate the hospital during busy daytime hours. With a laundry cart holding more than 500 isolation gowns, they need to use service elevators to transport linens across the hospital, which is a longer wait during the day.

With Bradley's night shift 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., he has better access to service elevators and linen supplies are now delivered "in record time, ensuring clinical teams are freshly stocked by morning," adds Sandra.

"Linen & Laundry runs smoothly because of the incredible team we have."

Nutrition Services

(L to R), Nutrition porters Tenzin Palden, Dylan Macclelland, Agassi Herrera, and Nutrition supervisor Ruri Suzuki, stayed late over Thanksgiving weekend when an issue arose with a refrigerator. Together, they moved several loads of patient food to a backup freezer truck to ensure food safety. (Photo: UHN)

The Nutrition Services team at Toronto General Hospital has for the past two years been working through construction to upgrade some of its decades-old equipment.

Replacement of the dishwashing machines and upgrades of the refrigerators in the food preparation and meal assembly areas in the hospital basement, meant the team was often working in condensed space as they cleaned and sanitized 230 food carts, 2,400 meal trays and mugs every day.

"It was like renovating your house while living in it," says Vesna Blazinovic, Manager, Nutrition Services & CORE Catering with FM-PRO.

As with most renovations, "not everything goes as planned," adds Vesna.

For example, over Thanksgiving weekend, the team noticed the temperature on one of the refrigerator's was not where it needed to be. Around 9 p.m., all of the food had to be relocated.

Without hesitation, the warewashing team – who don't work in that area – stayed past their shift, which was supposed to end at 9:30 p.m., to move all the food items to a freezer truck and ensure it stayed at safe temperatures.

"Thanks to their quick thinking and wonderful teamwork, we avoided thousands of dollars of food waste and there was no impact to patients," says Vesna. "Although the Nutrition Services team is not always visible to patients or the rest of the organization, they always rise to the challenge and complete whatever changes and work needs to be completed to ensure business continuity and prevent an impact to patients.

"We are very fortunate to have such dedicated staff."

Environmental Services

As an Environmental Services aide at Toronto Rehab, Bickle Centre, Virginia Pereira makes a significant impact on the patient experience.

For the past three years, she's been cleaning and disinfecting inpatient rooms, clinical spaces and public areas on the third floor of the UHN site in Toronto's Parkdale neighbourhood.

"I love to help," say Virginia. "While I'm working, I like to talk to the patients, I always say, 'good morning, how are you?'"

Virginia Pereira has been working as an Environmental Services aide at Toronto Rehab, Bickle Centre for three years. She loves talking to patients and makes a positive impact on their experience. (Photo: UHN)

She takes the time to chat with patients, often in Portuguese or Spanish. Her compassion made a significant impact on one family whose father stayed at the centre for a year.

He only spoke Portuguese, so while cleaning she always made conversation with him and encouraged him to eat. As his condition worsened, she even notified clinical staff when he wasn't looking well.

Virginia made such an impact on the family, they reached out to her supervisors to express their gratitude.

"Thank you for your kindness, what you did for my Dad … talking to him, cheering him up and us during visits," the family member wrote. "I so appreciate all that you've done and help easing pain."

Virginia continues to stay in touch with the family.


Fernanda Da Silva has been a part of FM-PRO's Support Services team for 24 years. She started in Environmental Services in 1998, then moved to Transportation Services at Toronto Western Hospital.

As a hospital assistant – commonly known as a porter – Fernanda has been responsible for transferring patients, specimens and equipment.

"It keeps me busy, it keeps me in shape," says Fernanda.

She currently specializes in the transport of infusion pumps – a portable medical device that delivers fluids, medications, blood and blood products to patients – across Toronto Western.

When the supply of infusion pumps at UHN needed to undergo critical safety updates and preventive maintenance over the summer, Transportation Services, professional practice, Environmental Services and medical engineering worked together to get this done.

Fernanda naturally became a Transportation lead on the project. She, alongside her Transportation colleagues, helped collect and clean nearly 4,000 pumps, so that they could undergo necessary upgrades.

Fernanda Da Silva has been part of Support Services at UHN for 24 years. As a hospital assistant at Toronto Western Hospital, she transports patients, specimens and equipment, and now specializes in transporting infusion pumps like the ones pictured, across the site. (Photo: UHN)

"I was happy to be able to help them," says Fernanda.

Support Services also includes:

Facilities Management (Building Operations and Maintenance), which ensures the capability and reliability of UHN's critical infrastructure, such as heating, cooling, ventilation systems, plumbing, electrical distribution, elevators, pneumatic tube and medical gas systems.

Research Laboratory Services, part of the Research Facilities team, which supports all laboratory operations across UHN research sites and buildings, including Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital and Krembil Discovery Tower, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto Rehab's KITE Research Institute and the Princess Margaret Cancer Research Tower.

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