Monika Shah, MD, infectious disease specialist, Vice Chair of Education in the Department of Medicine, and Chair of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Graduate Medical Education Committee, is everything you'd want in a good friend.
Women Behind-the-Scenes at MSK: Environmental Service Aide Brenda Steven
When Brenda Steven was looking for a job 14 years ago, she wanted to try something completely different.
“I joined MSK to have the experience working in a hospital environment with cancer patients,” she said. “It would be a new experience for me.”
Little did she know that she would find a place where she could make a daily impact on the lives of patients, staff and even build her leadership skills.
“My rewarding experience working at MSK is cleaning the patients’ rooms, and giving them a clean and healthy environment while they recover,” she said.
When Stevens started at MSK, she quickly became known for her friendly demeanor and attention to detail. After four years, she was moved to the M18-Thoraic/SACU unit.
“She has worked closely with patients and nursing staff, creating a significant impact in environmental cleanliness and patient satisfaction,” said her manager Wanda Crawford.
“She has been the recipient of numerous accolades both verbal and written. Brenda’s work is of the highest quality. Some compliments shared about her have pertained to her inspiring words, prayers and constant motivation offered to patients and their family members.”
Every department at MSK offers promotion and career growth opportunities and Stevens took advantage of the options on the Environmental Services team. She was promoted to EVS Aide II for her excellent performance and also earned the Certified Healthcare Environmental Service Technician (C.H.E.S.T) certification.
Now, she helps train new employees on MSK’s seven-step cleaning process and acts as a mentor for other team members.
“Brenda does not only train employees, but she makes herself available if there are any questions or concerns they may have after their initial training cycle," Crawford said.
Leading with Heart
Steven's attention to detail goes far beyond her work cleaning and preparing rooms for patients. She’s known for offering encouraging words to others and doesn’t hesitate to go above-and-beyond the call of duty to make someone’s day.
"Brenda observed that a patient did not receive any visitors over a period of three days and the patient had begun to scratch her head furiously,” Crawford said. “Brenda asked a member of the staff to wash the patient’s hair. Afterwards, during Brenda’s lunch break, she greased and combed the patient’s hair.”
When the pandemic hit last year, and patients with COVID-19 were put on her unit, Steven didn’t hesitate to be trained on how to wear and take off safety gear so she could enter and service patient rooms.
“Although Brenda works in the COVID-19 unit all week, she volunteers to cover the unit on her days off, if needed,” Crawford said. “She has never called out sick during any snow storms.”
Celebrating Other Women
While Stevens is one of the thousands of women being celebrated at MSK this month, she’s also celebrating the women who have inspired her and left a mark on our country.
She said: “The woman that has made a big impact on me is Kamala Harris because she’s the first woman vice president in the United States.”