From front to back: Orchid Bellefantie, ES operations supervisor; James Carlin Jr., ES aide; and Pedro Flores, ES supervisor

Photo Courtesy of Hackensack University Medical Center

When James Carlin Jr. was hired as an environmental services (ES) aide for Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center, he had no intention of building a career in the field.

“I started [in ES] in February 2015 after a long career in the food-service industry,” Carlin explains. “I originally applied with the thought of transferring to security. After a short period, I fell in love with my job and knew this is where I belonged.”

Carlin’s love for ensuring a safe health care environment has transferred into a commitment to excellence that has been evident to everyone around him. Now his dedication is being recognized beyond the hospital as the recipient of the Association for the Health Care Environment’s (AHE’s) Heart of Healthcare Award. 

Developed by AHE and Kimberly-Clark Professional, the award recognizes and honors outstanding front-line ES technicians who make a contribution to support safety initiatives, and help to reduce and prevent health care-associated infections.

Carlin’s official responsibilities include working as an ES aide in the medical center’s open-heart intensive care unit where he cleans and sanitizes all 14 rooms and the rest of the unit during his shifts.

In addition to his primary role, Carlin has proven to be a valuable asset outside of his unit. He volunteers for the ES Sustainability Committee and is a champion of its annual paper-recycling drive. Whether it’s ensuring that his unit is properly disinfected, assisting co-workers with computer issues, assisting with sustainability initiatives or helping patients and family members don and doff personal protective equipment, Carlin says his love for and commitment to his work is an outflow of his love for and commitment to each patient.

“I love interacting with patients and their family members,” he says. “I enjoy making their day as comfortable as possible, and knowing that they are healing in a clean and sanitized environment.”