ATHENS, Ga. — Hospital public safety officers witness the effects of COVID-19 on a daily basis. They provide a sense of security to patients and staff, and work to identify incidents before they escalate.
Meet one of the unseen faces in the battle against the coronavirus, safety director Mike Hodges.
“When we started pre-COVID, you come in, clock in for your 12-hour shift, and have some reasonable expectation that I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna move to this,” said Hodges, “We have really turned that on its head.”
Hodges is the Director of Public Safety for Piedmont Athens Regional Hospital in Georgia.
“A facility our size can see a couple of thousand folks a day, easily,” said Hodges.
Since COVID-19, Hodges says those numbers dropped down dramatically to only a few hundred people coming in and out of the hospital every day.
“It’s very restricted to those who absolutely need to be in the hospital to provide patient care,” said Hodges.
Meaning hospital safety officers are forced to turn away families wanting to visit their sick loved ones, in order to limit spread of the virus.
“For most people, they probably look at hospital public safety and have a picture of a security guard sitting on a bench somewhere watching a crowd go by,” said Hodges.
But that's not the reality of the job.
“You’re dealing with the full range of human emotions at a hospital,” explains Hodges, “If there’s an issue in a room, an officer’s gonna go in as well and be there in that environment, that weighs on individuals.”
Hodges says they have to enter into someone’s worst day and try to be the calm in the storm. It's about providing safety, security, and comfort in the midst of uncertainty.
“We’re all in this together, which can be kind of a hokey phrase at this point, but it’s true,” said Hodges.
They go where they’re needed, without any hesitation, only commitment to the job.