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Hospital Workers Rising

by James DeShields

I’m what they call “the spider.” I run back and forth in the kitchen and supply the food to the personnel who make the trays before they’re sent out to the patients. We do 270 trays a night on average. Meals aren’t always made on the spot, they’re usually done in advance. It’s not the most efficient way of doing the tray line, but it’s how we do it. How we do things here, you wonder how the place survives.

This is my seventh year working for UPMC Presbyterian. …

by Ralph Bridge

Ralph Bridge, UPMC Mercy

I’ve been in Housekeeping at UPMC Mercy for 5 years, working for the largest hospital system in the area. I’ve learned one thing if nothing else: all they care about is money.

Working housekeeping at Mercy is stressful, very stressful. I work from 1 PM to 9:30 PM, and in that shift I do the job of three people. I clean and pick up garbage in the whole hospital. The Operating Rooms, ICU, Trauma, everything. I have worked every single day for eight months straight — seven days a week. I’m trying to save money, and I…

by Arlynna Evans

Arlynna Evans, UPMC Mercy

I work at UPMC Mercy, I’m in housekeeping. I’ve been there since 2013, and before that I was at Presby, Montefiore, and Western Psych in food service. My mom, my sister, and my best friend all work at UPMC, and my dad used to work at UPMC as well.

I work nights, so I usually come in, get my cleaning cart together, and then I detail half of the OR by myself, and my coworker does the other half. They used to have four people to that work, and now they’re down to two. We both split…

by Kim Ward, AKA Miss Money

Kim Ward, AKA Miss Money

I’m a supply specialist in the environmental services (EVS) department at UPMC Presbyterian. I started here and worked for four months before I got promoted to my current position. I work from 6:00 in the morning to 2:00 in the afternoon, and my job is to do supply deliveries and take them to where they need to go, so you’re pretty much running all over the hospital. Wipes, sanitizer, toilet paper, paper towels, carts, trashcans, biohazard bins, moving supplies.

We help each other out. If they got busted garbage cans or dispensers for toilet…

By Shea Sandish

Shea Sandish, SBA at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital

I was hired in 2019 to work in Western Psychiatric Hospital in the Integrated Health and Aging Program — the geriatric program. I didn’t love that unit, but a job is a job. Western Psych lets you pick up shifts on other floors, and as I would pick up shifts, I found that I really like working with adolescents. I would pick up shifts on the child and adolescent unit and people with eating disorders unit a lot.

We have a scheduling system where you can see who needs more staff and you can pick up those…

By Joe Kennedy

Joe Kennedy, cook at UPMC Presbyterian

I’m a grill cook in the cafeteria at UPMC Presbyterian. There are four basic jobs at the cafeteria: cook, serve, stock, and clean. I mostly cook and serve, and sometimes stock. I started out in Montefiore, but moved over to Presby after a few months and I’ve been here for about 12 years.

I’m just about done with a 12 month final written warning for handing out a union flier to an employee who was on the clock. Before that I had a previous warning for the same thing. …

By Charday Richardson

Charday Richardson, Medical Assistant, UPMC Shadyside

I’m a Medical Assistant at UPMC Shadyside Dermatology. I work alongside a doctor, so I assist during procedures, do assessments, and things like that. I also work with a cosmetic dermatologist — the two doctors here are a husband and wife team. So I work with one of them Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and the other one on Tuesday and Thursday.

I’m from the West End of Pittsburgh and I’ve been working at this location for almost 5 years, but I’ve been with UPMC for about 11 years, since I graduated high school. …

By Mike Brigham

Mike Brigham, baker, cook, UPMC worker

I’m currently a cook at UPMC Shadyside, I just came over from the tray line at UPMC Presbyterian. Before COVID, I worked in restaurants and hotels. I have a career as a cook but my other job closed permanently during the pandemic and unemployment ran out, so in the fall I took a tray line job at Presby.

There are a lot of people like me, who came over from the food industry this past year. At first, a lot of us were excited about breaks and benefits, but we all hate it now. Getting benefits is…

By Christoria Hughes

Christoria Hughes, UPMC frontline worker

I’m a cafeteria worker at UPMC Presbyterian. I cover everything that’s done, mainly the front-end of the cafeteria, serving visitors and staff.

I’ve worked this job for twelve years. For the last six years I’ve worked the night shift. So I go in around 6 PM and set up late night patients’ menus and get things ready for late night staff that comes through. Night isn’t quite as busy as daylight but you still get a good amount of people and they still want their food just the same.

Over the years we’ve gone from a big…

By S.B.A.

Western Psychiatric Hospital (image from Wikimedia Commons)

I am a Student Behavioral Associate at Western Psychiatric Hospital, UPMC’s in-patient mental health facility. I work on many floors of the hospital, so I’ve seen a lot of what happens there. On a typical day, I might work with autistic patients and people with developmental disabilities; I feed people, clean up after them and help them bathe, and restrain people when they are a risk to themselves or others. I’ve been there just over a year.

I’m a student at Pitt where I study Psychology. I work this job (in addition to a second job) to support…

Hospital Workers Rising

We are UPMC hospital workers — these are our stories from the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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