Cleaning Medical Waste and Confidential Files with Care

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Lower Manhattan

By Laura Shin

Yuet Hong Chu came to the United States in 1982. She arrived with the motivation to work hard, and she hasn't let it go.

"In China, the environment is that everyone works very, very hard. It's a cultural thing," she said through a translator. "We're taught from a young age, do the work, do it well and take pride in it."

Chu, 46, is an office cleaner at the NYU Langone Trinity Center in the Financial District. As the sole daytime cleaner for the 22,000-square-foot medical facility, those who work at the center say Chu does it all.

Some of her responsibilities include cleaning up after each gastrointestinal procedure, cleaning bathrooms, shredding confidential files, collecting garbage and constantly cleaning the facility's two waiting areas.

But she does far more than she is asked to do, said Patty Yee, pulmonary function tech at Trinity. "She goes above and beyond. She even helps doctors when they're really busy. She'll even heat up their lunch for them."

Chu has been working at Trinity since 2008 when it first opened. Her favorite part of her job is learning new things and building relationships with the people who work there.

"The people here are very nice," she said. "If I don't know how to do something, they are always willing to teach me how to do it."

The most challenging part of her job is getting all of her tasks done on a day when there are a lot of patients. As a fast-paced medical office, the work can get stressful, she said.

She always gets the job done, however, and always with a smile on her face, said Tracy Murrin, office manager of the center.

"She's the most humble, genuine, hard-working individual that I think any of us have ever come across," Murrin said. "It's refreshing to see someone who always thinks of others around them and is never negative."

Chu said she came to America for better opportunities. She lived in San Francisco for many years, which is where most of her extended family still lives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, 13-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter.

When she isn't working, Chu said she tries to spend as much time as possible with her kids.

"I take them out shopping. On Saturdays, we always go out to eat dinner and on Sundays we cook dinner together at home," she said.

Her kids are one of the things she is most proud of in her life. It is important for her to be a good role model to them, she said.

Before working as an office cleaner, Chu worked as a waitress at a Chinese restaurant and also as a seamstress, but she said she likes her current job better.

As for her dream job, Chu said she would love to either stay home or work with children at a daycare.

Still, she loves her job at Trinity and the way everyone welcomes her. She said she feels like part of the family.

Yuet Hong Chu. Photo by Andrew Schwartz

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