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Mark Kastner works behind the scenes at several local Mercy facilities to keep the wheels turning.
He oversees all environmental cleaning in the hospital and area clinics, with services such as linen distribution, biomedical and hazardous waste treatment and disposal, patient room cleaning and disinfection of public spaces. Additionally, he’s in charge of central patient transport, the team that moves patients throughout the Mercy system.
“The most challenging aspect of my job is to manage these teams of 275 diverse co-workers in a way that supports the delivery of excellent health care, not only in a pandemic but in an ever-changing health care industry,” Kastner says. “Our diversity encompasses all types, and while it can be challenging, it also creates a team that mirrors the patient population that we serve.
“In other words, our greatest challenge is also a strength.”
As with many jobs in the health care industry, Kastner says the employees he oversees find meaning in their work beyond the calling of a typical job.
“The vision of health care typically brings to mind nurses and doctors, not necessarily housekeepers and transporters. Part of our challenge is to be recognized and gain respect from others for the supporting role we play in health care and also to build in ourselves that pride and confidence that we, too, are health care heroes,” he says. “I find real satisfaction as others find joy, success and purpose in what they do.”
That guidance is paying dividends.
His team’s average turnover time for cleaning patients’ rooms once they’re discharged is 48 minutes per room, down from an average of 242 minutes two years ago. His team’s turnover time has become the best among all Mercy hospitals in the health care system’s four-state area, he says.
“This team has been recognized for its accomplishment, which is the result of hard work,” Kastner says.
“One of my greatest rewards is to hear that my co-workers are happy and productive. I hear that from within and from others outside of our departments. It’s pretty humbling.”
Naturally, he’s become a mentor in that environment.
“Given the journey taken to end up here, I have a lot to teach. I didn’t always succeed, either because of things beyond my control or because of mistakes that I made,” Kastner says. “I am laying the foundation for the next director of environmental services and central patient transport, hopefully from within our current ranks.”
Leading by example, Kastner has worked to foster a cultural shift among his team members from “simply cleaning to supporting health care.”
Prior to his roughly 20-year career at Mercy, Kastner served as a design engineer for Custom Metalcraft Inc. and as a design drafter and purchasing agent for Allen Filters Inc.
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