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Business, Economy and Consumer Affairs

Hoosier Workers: Jamie Beck, The Hospital Housekeeper

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Jamie Beck, a housekeeper at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, completes a log on the rooms she has cleaned as part of her daily routine. (Justin Hicks/ IPB News)

For the month of September, we're bringing you stories of workers across Indiana, about what they do and how they find meaning in their jobs. This week, Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Justin Hicks profiles Jamie Beck, a housekeeper at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie. She’s an alumni of the Erskine Green Training Institute, a program that provides job training for people with disabilities.

“Housekeeping!" Jamie Beck says each time before entering a patient room to clean. "Is it alright if I come and clean? My name is Jamie." 

"I’ve got a list of things we do in each of the rooms. Trash, linen, dust, dust mop, bathroom, wet mop, second trash, and linen. On all of the rooms.

"The challenge is making sure you get everything done in an eight hour time. That’s the challenging part. Some times, you lift a heavy bag, and some days you get – pick up a light one. A man can do what a man can. Well you can do, or you can not. I’ve got me a little quote that helps me keep on going and stuff: 'The problem is not the problem, the problem is your attitude about the problem.'

"Say if the patient is unable to hear me good, I’ve got a paper that says who I am, what I’m expected to do in the room, and some of the patients appreciate it when I show them this. [It says] 'May I clean your room for you? My name is Jamie and I’m the housekeeper.' On the back, 'Thank you, have a good day.' 

"We don’t do the food nor the medical side [of treatment] but can go in there to make their day better. That’s why a lot of times I say 'How’s your day going?' or just look at the TV or make comments about the favorite show they’re watching. And I’ll look out the window for them and say it’s going to be a nice day or it might about to rain and stuff. That’s the best thing I can do, is make their day better.

"I got stuck in a nursing home for almost a year because I have a disability and they didn’t ask me if I had any place to go, they just put me into a nursing home. I was in the same place that they [are], but now I’m in a different position. But what I tell myself is: Make their day [be] as best you can. 

"On this floor, there is no COVID. But on my other floor, there is. During the COVID-19 time, they really enjoy it because they couldn’t see their loved ones. They couldn’t visit them. At least I enjoy helping them feel better about being here and stuff. [I] just encourage them to get better as soon as possible. 

"I call it the game of life. Enjoy what you get in life. Because we all play a special role. We’re all connected to the great circle of life, one way or another."

Jamie Beck told her story to workforce reporter Justin Hicks. Contact Justin at jhicks@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.