The St. Michael's Laundry team has met campus needs throughout the pandemic. Pictured from left to right are Shannen McKaskle, assistant director operations and strategy, Kim Haughee, production operator, Larose Saint Jean, director, Tina Arndt, retail manager, Sarah Scott, production operator, and Jessica Jordan, production manager. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)
When Jessica Jordan, production manager at St. Michael’s Laundry, was promoted last year, she could not have imagined how much her duties and those of her team would change.
Back then, most of the laundry’s orders came from the Morris Inn, restaurants and events. Because of the pandemic, her team now washes medical scrubs from the COVID-19 Response Unit (CRU) testing center, bedding from quarantine and isolation housing and huge amounts of mops and cleaning towels. (Building Services has tripled its use of mops and towels in its efforts to sanitize, disinfect and maintain a safe campus.)
Jordan meets with the St. Michael’s production team daily to listen to concerns, offer advice, refine processes and help her co-workers stay positive and healthy. As importantly, she works alongside her team.
“The five-minute stand-ups (meetings) have been my way of letting everyone know that I’m here to help any way I can. If we need to change things to make people feel more comfortable, we do it,” she said.
That includes creating touch-free processes for laundry and bedding retrieved from student quarantine and isolation rooms. (Students in quarantine have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, and those in isolation have been diagnosed with the virus.) St. Michael’s also launders the blankets students use during events at the new Library Lawn.
“Because we’re so close as a team, we find solutions together and help each other even when we’re feeling worried about these uncertain times,” Jordan said.
Since the coronavirus was declared a pandemic in March, St. Michael’s Laundry has operated without interruption to meet the needs of the University.
“We became essential workers overnight, and that gives us all a strong sense of being valued right now,” said Larose Saint Jean, director of St. Michael’s. “We’ve asked so much of our staff and they’ve been resilient.”
“Jessica, Retail Manager Tina Arndt and so many others have managed demands associated with the pandemic with a great deal of flexibility and care,” said Shannen McKaskle, assistant director of operations. “They’ve been amazing.”
The facility was an early adopter of the CRU workplace protocols. Managers quickly added personal protective equipment (PPE) and new sanitizing processes. Wearing and replacing the PPE — gloves, face masks, shields, plastic sleeves and coats for the incoming laundry — was a tough transition and slows the laundering processes, but because everyone is taking the situation so seriously, compliance has not been an issue, Jordan said.
St. Michael’s leaders were also quick to offer new services, such as laundering the medical scrubs. All University staff working at the CRU testing site are offered scrubs to wear during their shifts to keep their personal clothing contamination-free when they return home. St. Michael’s picks up those scrubs daily for cleaning and sanitizing, with added safety measures.
By stepping into new services and processes during this challenging time, St. Michael’s is continuing its legacy of trust and care for the Notre Dame community.
“Getting notes from students thanking everyone for clean pillows and sheets makes us feel so much pride. We know we’re taking care of each other, the students and Notre Dame,” Jordan said. “What we do is crucial, and there’s so much love here.”