Annie Manuel, laundry linen supervisor, learned the importance of service and working for the greater good from her parents. They taught Annie and her 5 siblings that everyone plays an important part to ensure things run smoothly. Whether she was washing dishes, mowing the grass or helping with a plumbing project, Annie approached each chore with a can-do attitude.
During 48 years at Akron Children’s, that same upbeat outlook helped Annie stay on top of many tough jobs. In 2020, this involved the cleaning and sterilization of more than 641,000 pounds of hospital linens. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Annie and her environmental services colleagues worked hard to provide a safe, clean environment for patients, their families, visitors and employees. The pandemic just meant they redoubled their efforts.
When Annie retires on August 20, she plans to travel and visit art museums with her husband. On quieter days, Annie intends to pursue hobbies, including fishing, taking drawing classes, learning to play the piano and reading.
What brought you to Children’s?
I was working part-time in K-Mart’s automotive department. After graduating from Buchtel High School, I knew that I wanted to work in a hospital, which offered job security. I applied at several Akron-area hospitals. My last stop was at Children’s. I applied, and Sonny Smith, housekeeping supervisor, hired me on the spot.
Have you always worked in the same department and role?
I started in housekeeping, cleaning patient rooms or doing other projects, such as carpet cleaning, stripping and waxing floors and washing walls. Children’s commercial cleaning company trained me to use the chemicals and equipment for these projects and later, I trained their employees. Eventually, I became a housekeeping supervisor. Sometimes, I filled in for upper management temporarily.
Using the hospital’s tuition reimbursement program, I earned an associate’s degree in business management at Stark State College. In 2005, I became laundry linen supervisor, managing the day-to-day operations, including the ordering and reject return process, to assure our linen supplies are stocked. We work with a nationally accredited health care commercial laundry to sterilize our sheets, blankets, scrubs, bed pads, towels and gowns. We also sterilize specially designed sheets, bedding and personal protective equipment in-house for some hospital units.
What have your biggest contributions been while here?
I’ve mentored other employees by training or counseling them. They’ve been able to get promoted, attend college or gain advancement. They’re my hospital family, and it’s a good feeling to see them doing well. I’ve also coordinated special projects within the linen department, such as setting up for a meeting or washing a specialized item. Before I ask my team to do something, I do it first so I can show them and answer their questions.
How has Akron Children’s changed since you started here?
We’ve streamlined many departments as we’ve grown. For instance, laundry and linen is now combined with housekeeping within environmental services.
What gave you the most satisfaction at work?
Completing the job every day and staying ahead of things, instead of things getting ahead of me. I like to serve people by responding quickly and going the extra mile. I’ve met many nice people who work here.
With so many little children here, did someone especially touch your heart?
While working in housekeeping on the orthopedics floor, I met a child who had broken her leg. Sometimes, she wouldn’t respond to the nurses, but she would with me. On occasion when she wouldn’t eat, I’d take my lunch to her room and eat with her to encourage her to eat. Another time, I remember how Dr. Gary Benfield, Children’s first neonatologist, saw me cleaning in the NICU. He told me to put my supplies down and come over and help feed one of the babies!
What is your idea of a perfect day?
When I can set my schedule for the day, and nothing happens to change it.
Do you have any advice for people just starting at Children’s?
Work hard, take the opportunities presented to you and be dependable. Children’s is a good place to work.
What couldn’t you live without?
Jesus. Also, helping other people.
What music do you like? Where and how do you listen to it?
Gospel. I listen to it as much as I can and everywhere I can.
What is the last book you read?
The Bible and books on biblical prophecy.