April 1981: Army of Cleaners Take over after Day Is Done #ThrowbackThursday

In April 1981, Mayo Clinic recognized its hard-working custodians. Rarely seen, custodians exert quiet influence on image.

Only a muffled voice drifting through an empty corridor breaks the silence that closing hour has brought to Mayo. A magazine rests on a couch in the sixth floor waiting room of the Mayo Building, the only reminder of the day’s surge of patients who anxiously awaited word about their health. Bright, colorful chairs at Desk C in the Hilton Building stand ready for the next morning’s throng of fasting patients nervous about their impending blood tests. A sinking sun bathes the courtyard in the fastly fading blue light of evening. It’s 7 o’clock. Patients have returned to their hotels and guest rooms. Consultants have gone home or are making hospital rounds. Paramedical employees are tending to their families after spending the day tending to patients.

But the day is far from over at Mayo. Much work remains before the first patient comes through the doors in the morning. Floors must be mopped, carpets vacuumed, desks dusted, restrooms cleaned, and waste baskets emptied. A thousand tasks remain before the desk attendant calls the first name tomorrow.

It is in this nightly stillness that an army of custodians launches an assault from 5:30 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. on every waiting room, office, examining room, laboratory, restroom, elevator, hallway, every nook, and every cranny of Mayo.

Warren Hess, lead man in the Hematology Laboratory, also had a 160-acre farm near Stewartville. He began working at Mayo because he needed the additional income.
Warren Hess, lead man in the Hematology Laboratory, also has a 160-acre farm near Stewartville. He began working at Mayo because he needed the additional income.
By day, Harold Walker farmed 160 acres in Pleasant Grove Township. At night he was responsible for the care of the sixth floor of the Mayo Building.
By day, Harold Walker farms 160 acres in Pleasant Grove Township. At night, he is responsible for the care of the sixth floor of the Mayo Building.
“I’ve lived on my farm since 1948. When I realized my children didn’t want to farm, I decided to sell the cows and go to work for the Mayo Clinic,” Walker said.
“I’ve lived on my farm since 1948. When I realized my children didn’t want to farm, I decided to sell the cows and go to work for the Mayo Clinic,” Walker said.
Betty Shaw, assigned to the Department of Oncology, had been working for a restaurant when she heard Mayo was starting to hire women for its custodial staff in 1978.
Betty Shaw, assigned to the Department of Oncology, had been working for a restaurant when she heard Mayo was starting to hire women for its custodial staff in 1978.
Mike Hlohinec, assigned to the fourth floor of the Mayo building, used the extra money to finance the construction of a new home. He also worked part-time for a local nursery. Hlohinec has worked at Mayo for a year and a half and is assigned to fourth floor Mayo. “People here are helpful. The hours, people and benefits are impressive,” he said.
Mike Hlohinec, assigned to the fourth floor of the Mayo building, uses the extra money to finance the construction of a new home. He also works part-time for a local nursery.
Hlohinec has worked at Mayo for a year and a half and is assigned to the fourth floor of the Mayo Building. “People here are helpful. The hours, people, and benefits are impressive,” he said.
alyssafrank

Alyssa Frank

Alyssa Frank is a Marketing Associate at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She supports marketing strategies for product management and specialty testing. Alyssa has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2015.