The Kansas Hospital Association recognized Coffey Health System's Toby Paige with the Kansas Health Care Worker of the Year Award.
The presentation was made during a virtual luncheon on October 21. CHS hosted a special "live" luncheon with staff and board members present to cheer for Toby. KHA will send officials to deliver Toby's award in the coming weeks.
Toby has been a fixture at Coffey Health System for nearly 30 years. He took care of countless Coffey Countians in his 22 years as an EMT, then spent five years in the facilities department. In 2018, Toby was called upon to lead the environmental services team. His two decades in EMS brought a clinical perspective that elevated every aspect of cleaning and infection control throughout the organization.
Recognizing Toby’s leadership and commitment through the COVID-19 pandemic, the staff elected him Coffey Health System Health Care Worker of the Year. He then represented CHS for the statewide recognition.
Toby’s clinical background and meticulous nature made him an integral part of the Infection Control/COVID-19 team. He led all CHS facilities in proper procedures to prevent the spread and cross-contamination. He voluntarily assumed the responsibility of front-line duties to clean the rooms of positive COVID-19 patients so that other staff members would not be unnecessarily exposed—even if it meant coming in at night, on a weekend, or during a holiday.
"Toby’s extraordinary work through the pandemic reached everyone throughout the organization," said Chief Operating Officer James Higgins. "Several departments volunteered to clean their workspaces so that Environmental Services could focus on COVID efforts. It would have been easy to simply check those departments off his list, but Toby made sure that everyone was trained to assure safety. He conducted ‘walk-throughs’ to point out high-touch areas, provided appropriate cleaning products, and demonstrated exactly how to clean each surface. His attention to detail and concern for others is vital in containing the disease spread."
Since taking on the Environmental Services Supervisor position in 2018, overall patient satisfaction scores related to hospital environment and cleanliness have risen significantly. CHS was ranked in the 74th percentile for Overall Hospital Environment in 2015. When Toby took on the role of Environmental Services Supervisor scores climbed to the 97th percentile in 2018 and the 98th percentile in 2019. CHS is on track to be in the 99th percentile in 2020.
He meticulously monitored cleaning chemicals to ensure adequate supply and appropriate use, while also educating all staff (not just environmental services, but ALL staff) on how and when to use products in their workspace. Most importantly, Toby was a calm, positive presence throughout the surge in COVID-19 patients at CHS. His professionalism, kindness, and willingness to help at any moment brought reassurance and confidence to all of CHS staff during a very trying time.