Article—Written for Lancaster Health System Employee Newsletter
A Hero Behind the Scenes
Doctors and nurses at Lancaster General often play heroic, life-saving roles. But behind the scenes, many unassuming employees do heroic deeds every day, quietly and without acclaim. One of them is Cindy Sipe.
For the past two years, Cindy has worked on the Environmental Services team, cleaning patient rooms in the intensive care unit (ICU). Her supervisor praises not only Cindy's cleaning work, but also the other special skills she brings to her job.
"Cindy's cleaning abilities are phenomenal and she always goes the extra mile in her work," says Deborah Culp, Environmental Services Supervisor. "She not only makes sure that the rooms are cleaned, but also that the patient and their family are taken care of. Cindy tries to help the nurses by offering simple words of encouragement when they've had a tough day. She's one of those people that you wish the world had more of."
Cindy grew up near Pittsburgh, PA. After graduating from high school in 1974, she moved to Lancaster to take courses at Lancaster Bible College, then relocated to York, PA to work with inner-city youths. Later she embarked on a 20-year stint working for the Dallastown school district in York County. She moved back to Lancaster two years ago and joined Lancaster General.
Connecting With People
Cindy acquired her instinctive love of people growing up on a farm, watching her single mother raise six kids. "My mother always taught us that everyone, no matter who they are, deserves to be treated well," Cindy says. "Anyone can learn the cleaning part of my job, but to me the most important part is how I treat the people in the ICU. Patients and their families are facing life-and-death situations there every day, and often, they're scared. I try to connect with them because that's a hard situation to be in."
Aimee Anderson, Nurse Manager of the Intensive Care Unit, attests that Cindy is far more than the unit's "cleaning lady"—she's a valuable part of the ICU team: "What impresses us most about Cindy is that she goes into a patient's room and quickly assesses the situation and determines what the patient or family needs.
"For example, she'll come to us and report that a family seems upset. She knows these things because she gets close to the patient and the family and she wants to improve their experience at Lancaster General."
Cindy's efforts coincide with Lancaster General's mission—to create an extraordinary experience every time for patients and their families. Consistently creating that kind of experience requires sustained relationships with patients and families that are personal, meaningful and memorable.
Making Patients Feel Better
Cindy, whom her colleagues fondly call "The Singing, Dancing Cleaning Lady," often uses music to make patients feel better: "I sometimes sing and dance to funny little songs to make patients laugh. Other times, I sing soothing hymns to comfort them."
Recently, Lancaster General recognized Cindy's efforts by presenting her with a Magnet Award, an annual honor for excellence in health care that is usually given only to medical staff.
"I love the whole group that works in the ICU—they're like my family," Cindy says. "I've seen them have hard days trying to save people and they do tremendously brave and courageous things."
You don't have to be a doctor or nurse to do brave and courageous things—just ask the patients and families who have experienced the behind-the-scenes heroism of Cindy Sipe.