My Hurricane!

So I know a guy who works for the environmental services department in a children’s hospital down in Florida. For those of you who don’t know what that is, environmental services is the department that’s responsible for cleaning the rooms and the medical instruments and so on.

This guy—who’s in his 50s—has been doing this job for several years now, but even just after a few months working there when he first started, he quickly developed a reputation in the hospital.

You see, whenever he would go into the children’s rooms to clean, he would always take the time to talk to the kids—to share with them and to joke with them. He knows they’re in a difficult place, so he wants to do what he can to love them and to brighten their day.

It ends up that he was so good at this, that eventually, whenever he went to a floor to start cleaning the rooms, all the kids would start banging on their windows because they wanted him to clean their rooms first.

There was this one toddler who this guy got to know during the times he would clean the boy’s room. Tragically, this boy eventually died from cancer. But when he was alive, this guy who cleaned his room was such a beacon of joy and love in the boy’s life, that the boy constantly talked about him to his parents. In fact, the impression that this man made on this boy was so strong that after he died, this man was one of the first people that the parents sought out. They wanted him to come to the memorial service at the hospital because they believed that is what their son would have wanted, and they wanted to thank him for being such a blessing in the boy’s life.

There was another youth in the hospital who was about 14-years-old. While talking with this man, the boy learned that this man’s house had a fire. Concerned, the boy told his parents, and his parents approached the man and asked if they could in anyway help—they wanted to repay him somehow for treating their son so well. The man, of course, said he was fine and that the fire was not a big deal. But the parents still wanted to thank him. So they pulled out a prayer mat (they were Muslim), and they prayed for him.

This person that I’ve been describing in this story is actually my father-in-law. And there are very few people in my life that I respect more than this man.

He’s been nominated multiple times for employee of the month, and recently, he was named as the 2014 Employee of the Month at the hospital.

Here are some words from a fellow co-worker:

For several years I have had the pleasure of watching Pung bring joy and laughter to our patients and families while cleaning their room. I first saw him in action on 7 South. He would be cleaning and all of a sudden let out a bark or meow and make some of the sickest kids smile. You could see the child’s eyes light up when he walked in the room and you could tell that’s all Pung wanted to do. It doesn’t matter if his shift is just beginning or ending, he always does a thorough job with a smile. I once saw him bring laughter and joy to a mom and her son who were having a difficult day. The mom commented that when Pung walked in he changed the spirit and mood of the room. Her son stopped crying and started giggling as Pung cleaned and let out barks and meows. He makes me smile when I pass him in the hall the same way he makes the kids and parents smile, with his positive attitude and the magic he works with humor, laughter and kindness.

And this is what his department director had to say:

I cannot say how many times Pung has been nominated for employee of the month and how he truly keeps patients and families and staff smiling. Pung’s area of responsibility is equivalent to cleaning an 11,000 square foot house with 28 bathrooms. He always sings to the children, makes towel animals and engages in conversation as he goes about his work. The patients and families look forward each evening to Pung’s arrival. Pung works at a very brisk pace and the children have nicknamed him ‘Hurricane.’ I’m reminded of one little boy who was hospitalized on 7 South for a long period of time and then was discharged. A few months later the boy returned with mom for a visit and when he saw Pung he ran down the hallway yelled, “My Hurricane!” Pung came running and held the boy and hugged him. That was an incredible moment, as it is not often that someone who cleans the rooms has such an effect on a patient. I spoke to Pung about this and he said that he feels responsible to help take a child’s mind off their illness, and if he can accomplish that, he knows he’s doing his job. I asked what about cleaning the rooms (his cleanliness scores are awesome) and his smiling reply was “Oh yeah, that too.” Pung’s feeling of responsibility comes from his heart and he takes such pride in his job.  He was recognized last year within our department and he said with tears how much he enjoys helping the children of his community.

That’s him pictured below. All quotes were taken from the original All Children’s Hospital Employee of the Month article, which you can read here.

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

-Matthew 25:37-40

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