40 Seconds of Caring Can Changes a Patient’s Health Trajectory

When Covid-19 hit North America, frontline workers were hailed as the heroes, and we all sang our praises by clapping, banging pots and ringing bells. And, all the while, we’ve neglected the essential personnel working in the background at our hospitals.

Often seen as the “invisible” workers are the custodians of the hospitals. The ones that make sure rooms are sanitized and shelves are stocked so that the doctors and nurses can do their jobs and patients have a safe place to recover.

Throughout COVID, reliance on these workers has grown exponentially. As patients are isolated from loved ones, doctors, nurses, and even the chaplain, these workers are the ones quietly offering their presence and comfort with a smile or a kind word showing these patients that they are not alone.

Florida resident, Jason Denney, credits hospital custodian Rosaura Quinteros for saving his life. Infected with COVID-19, Denney was read his last rights, and everyone in the hospital didn’t expect him to make it. Having said his goodbyes to his family via iPad, he was ready to give up when Quinteros urged him not to give up hope.

What started as small talk bloomed into conversations about their families and faith. Quinteros wanted to make sure he knew he was not alone, and for Denney, her daily visits helped him focus on something other than his struggle and discomfort.

Quinteros and Denney’s story is just one of many that have been shared over the last couple of months. Dr. Neil Prose, a pediatric dermatologist and professor at Duke University’s Global Health Institute, told CNN that the hospital custodian work is so vital that he produced a short documentary shining a light on the subject.

Dr. Jane Dutton, Professor of Business Administration and Psychology at the University of Michigan, says that these little moments can save lives. She goes on to say that it “only takes 40 seconds of a caring interaction to change a patient in a way that affects their whole health trajectory.”

As we continue down the unknown world of COVID, let’s learn from these unsung heroes, use the 40-second rule to be kind to one another and create little moments that could make a difference in someone’s life.