Finding the Silver Lining: Employment Services Participant Finds New Opportunity Despite Global Pandemic

Karen putting sheets on a hospital bed

The saying “when one door closes, another door opens” couldn’t be truer than it is for Karen, a participant in Community Living’s Employment Services program. She was a dedicated employee at a popular hotel until the tourism industry started to feel the impacts of COVID-19 last spring. “I used to do rooms at the beginning and then they switched me off to cleaning the pool area, lobby and fitness room,” she recalls about her former job. Karen’s position was eliminated after nearly 40 years of work. Like many others, she found herself searching for a new role amid a global pandemic.

She was able to find work bagging groceries at two different locations for a while until she heard about an opening at SSM St. Joseph Hospital in Lake St. Louis. Unlike the hotel business at the time, the hospital was busy and had an opening in the housekeeping department. Karen had done housekeeping before and enjoyed it, so she worked with the Employment Services staff to submit her application. She was interviewed over the phone and was offered the job. As an in-demand essential worker, Karen was even given a sign-on bonus and a big increase in pay! With her raise, Karen was able to purchase a brand new car—a 2020 Nissan Rogue.

The job also came with increased responsibilities. “It’s harder. I have more rooms to do,” she said. Karen is in charge of taking out the trash and tidying up 36 rooms each day. She also gets calls when patients are discharged, and she has to drop everything and do deep cleaning to prepare the room for the next patient. Although making a bed in a hospital is a little different than in a hotel, Karen is catching on quickly. She started in September and had already been named Employee of the Month by February!

“She’s complimented all the time on her friendliness and dedication to the patients whose rooms she’s cleaning.”

“She has been nothing but a dream to work with,” said Karen’s supervisor, Taylor. “She’s complimented all the time on her friendliness and dedication to the patients whose rooms she’s cleaning.”

Karen says her favorite part of the new job is “all of it.”

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