Hospital Week spotlight: Meet Sally McDowell

Providing clean and sterile operating rooms isn’t something staff members in the TMC’s Environmental Services department “strive” to do. They have to do it.

For every patient. Every surgery. Every day.

Sally McDowell TMC Environmental Services associate

Sally McDowell,
TMC Environmental Services associate

It’s a responsibility that can’t be overlooked, and is taken very seriously by Environmental Services associate Sally McDowell and her team. McDowell primarily works in the third floor of the TMC Orthopaedic and Surgical Tower, where all orthopaedic surgeries take place.

“In addition to cleaning and sterilizing the operating rooms after every surgery, we have to essentially deep clean every OR once a day. This includes cleaning the walls, the ceiling, and wiping down every single piece of equipment that’s in that room,” explained McDowell.

McDowell started working at TMC about a year ago, when she and her husband grew tired of Michigan winters and decided to move to Tucson. She had been an orderly at a Michigan hospital years ago, and was excited to work in health care once again.

“My job is to provide peace of mind to our patients and their families that their operating room is a clean and sterile environment. I do my part to ensure a positive patient experience,” said McDowell.

The most challenging part? Her work literally never ends. “There are always patients who need to be taken care of, and there are always areas of the hospital that need to be cleaned and sterilized,” she said.

In the short time she’s been with TMC, McDowell’s work ethic has made her a leader on her team, according to Environmental Services manager Gil Loera. “Sally is our go-to person on the third floor ORs. She has done a remarkable job in honing an enviable EVS OR team on the third floor. She has taken charge, and verifies that everyone follows processes and procedures as well as ensuring that she communicates any needs or concerns to the EVS management staff on a daily basis. We are extremely fortunate and delighted to have her on our team!”

In what can often be a thankless and overlooked job, McDowell said it’s always nice to receive a pat on the back.

“People will tell me, ‘We don’t know what we’d do without you!’” And that, she said, is one of the best things about working at TMC – knowing that she is making a difference in the health of our patients and the Southern Arizona community.

Hospital Week spotlight: Meet Naomi Maxam

Naomi Maxam TMC Environmental Services Associate

Naomi Maxam
TMC Environmental Services associate

Naomi Maxam describes her job at TMC as having absolutely no margin for error. The Environmental Services associate helps provide a clean and sanitary environment for patients, visitors and hospital staff. “It is vitally important that I do my job correctly and thoroughly, every single time I walk into a dirty room, because we don’t want our patients to leave with something they didn’t come in with, like an infection,” she said. While her main focus is the patients, Maxam knows that she has an equal obligation to maintain sanitary surroundings for all TMC employees.

Maxam spends her shift cleaning patient and non-patient areas. “Anything nurses, doctors, PCTs, patients or family members touch has to be disinfected. The job is incredibly detail-oriented, and we can’t miss anything,” she said. “It may look like we are just cleaning, but there is more to it than people may realize. We need to use certain chemicals to disinfect certain rooms to keep the spread of bacteria to a minimum.”

The work is labor intensive. And it’s never done.

“The biggest challenge of my job is keeping up with the demand since there is a constant need for cleanliness. It’s all day, every day. There is always an area of the hospital that needs to be clean and sanitized, so our work is never done by the time we finish our shift,” she said.

The best part of her job? Interacting with patients and their families daily. “I’m not at the bedside, but my job has a big impact on a patient’s overall experience. By keeping their environment clean and organized, hopefully it lifts their spirits,” she said.

Maxam also helps train new employees, or those who need specialized training before starting work in a new area. “Naomi is currently one of our key trainers. She never runs out of fresh ideas to improve staff training. She is constantly seeking new challenges and faces any obstacles with a can-do attitude and an infectious smile,” Gil Lorea, TMC Environmental Services manager. “She has been indispensible; she is diligent in ensuring that the training that new employees receive is the best she can provide. We are extremely fortunate and delighted to have her on our team.”

‘I Choose Dedication:’ Hospital Encounters Invite Teamwork

Organizational values identified by TMC employees (Dedication, Compassion, Integrity, Community) are among the reasons people ‘Choose Well’ when they choose Tucson Medical Center.

TMC has launched an internal campaign to celebrate examples of those who demonstrate these values every day.  Here’s another example of those who “choose Dedication”

Ahmed Ali

Ahmed Ali brings a positive attitude to his work each day with TMC Environmental Services. He has adapted to his new life far from his former home in Uganda, and has been with TMC for more than five years.  His dedication is demonstrated every day with his colleagues.

“We work as a team of employees, and we just do the extra stuff.  If I find a patient or see someone who is standing in the hallway, I say, ‘Hey, do you need help?’ and I give them directions.  With Transportation, for example, if they can’t push the patient, we just give a hand, to help them.  That’s what we need, to work together. Teamwork.

“Sometimes when I go somewhere, I say ‘I work at TMC’ and they say ‘Oh, my kids were born at TMC. They take care of my kids.’  I think we are the best hospital in Tucson.  I love TMC.  I’m glad to work at TMC.”


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461