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Meet an unsung hero of the pandemic: A COVID-19 cleaner in the ER at University Hospitals Parma Medical Center

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Posted at 8:36 AM, Mar 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-19 08:36:13-04

CLEVELAND — A native son of Cleveland, born to first-generation immigrants seeking refuge from communism, has become an unsung hero of the global coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m the COVID cleaner for the ER on first shift,” said Jim Jovanovic, 42.

He suited up on day one of the pandemic to go to battle with COVID-19 and disinfect patient rooms at UH Parma Medical Center.

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Jim Jovanovic, 42, is a COVID-19 cleaner in the ER at University Hospitals Parma Medical Center.

He says he wasn’t scared but was a little hesitant. Remember at first, we weren't exactly sure how the virus spread or how to kill it on surfaces.

“I think when you're scared it creates a different mindset to where you start not doing things very well,” he said. “So, any fear that might be there I put it aside."

It is a lesson he learned as a cancer survivor. Yes, which puts him at an increased risk of severe complications from the coronavirus.

However, he says his doctors cleared him to work if he felt comfortable and wore personal protective equipment. He stayed healthy and has since been vaccinated.

To clean a room that a COVID-19 patient has been in, Jim says they put on the proper PPE and use a chemical solution blended to kill COVID -- as well as the flu, C.diff, and MRSA – and then wipe down every inch of the room.

“It used to take me 40 minutes to clean a room,” said Jim. “Now, I can clean a room in 15 minutes just because my muscle memory is so good about how to wipe things down, how to clean things, and make things safe for the next patient who's going into that room.”

He says he doesn’t see himself as an unsung hero of the pandemic.

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Jim Jovanovic, 42, is a COVID-19 cleaner in the ER at University Hospitals Parma Medical Center.

“I work with heroes,” he said. “Doctors and nurses who are in there saving lives. So, I don't know if I'd put myself alongside someone who I have such high respect for but guess I'm kind of like a mini-hero!”

He should not sell himself short because Jim is doing a job not a lot of people would want to take on at this time.

And, he’s a full-fledged hero to his kids who see the exhausting work their dad has been doing, which he says has given him hope.

“No matter how difficult things are we have a way of overcoming that.” He said. “It's the beauty of humanity; we can always overcome everything by working together on a common goal.”

RELATED: Meet one of the unsung heroes of the pandemic: respiratory therapists in Northeast Ohio

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