Health care hero: Mary Neiss, laundry services manager

Sanford Health named her the management employee of the year

Employee of the year awards

Healthcare Environmental Services (formerly Healthcare Environmental Services Inc.) Manager Mary Neiss is known as a “helper” in the Fargo region. With a last name that sounds like “nice,” she jokingly says people expect her to be kind.

“Yes. Unless your middle name is ‘not,’” Neiss said.

Luckily, Neiss, who grew up on a farm in north central North Dakota, truly is great to work with. It’s the reason she is the management employee of the year at Sanford Health. She’s been with HESI for 13 years.

“I’m naturally just somebody that likes people. I’ll ask you questions about what’s going on with you? What’s your family situation? Things like that. I like to keep that rapport with people. I’m interested. Also, I’m all about giving them little things that lets them know they’re appreciated,” Neiss said.

A lot of laundry

Neiss manages 40 people and a lot of linen. HESI Director David Roethel says she helps process seven million pounds of linen each year. That linen goes to and from 67 sites, clinics and hospitals. HESI also services 18 non-Sanford customers.

“You can’t have a hospital or clinic without doctors and nurses. And you can’t have them without clean linen either,” Roethel said.

Neiss can’t do all that alone. She puts in a lot of effort keeping employees ready for the challenges ahead.

“Most of our laundry staff have very little experience with computers. So, they become frustrated and angry when attempting to navigate through Sanford policies, Sanford Learn, etc. Mary is very patient, remains calm and stays with the employee working through the issues,” Roethel said.

“We have people that speak very little English. Some of them speak no English. You have to depend on body language and the help of others that do speak. They interpret for you,” Neiss said.

Staying positive

During the pandemic, Neiss says her team has had to mask up more and social distance. It can be uncomfortable work. She tries to keep things light. She even purchased a special treat for the office.

“We brought in a slushie machine. So, in the hot summer months, we’ve got a slushie machine in our break room,” Neiss said.

It’s a cool way to uplift her team. Neiss is always thinking of others.

“The HESI staff absolutely loves working with her as she makes them feel important and respected,” Roethel said.

“Being honored myself, it just makes we want to push it forward to other employees. It makes me start thinking about other ways I can start appreciating some of the other people I work with. There’s lots of people that deserve this award. I’m happy I’ve been chosen but I almost want to give it to everyone else too,” Neiss said.

Sanford Health honors employees of the year

Sanford Health recently announced its employee of the year award winners for 2020. Winners are nominated by their peers for demonstrating the organization’s values. This year, one Fargo employee received Sanford’s only Sanford Health Veteran of the Year award. Four Fargo employees were honored in regional categories and two East Grand Forks employees were honored in two network system categories.

Cathy Keogh, a registered nurse with Sanford Home Health and Community Based Services, was honored as the Sanford Health Veteran of the Year.

Dr. Avish Nagpal was named Sanford Fargo 2020 Physician of the Year. Dr. Nagpal is the medical director of Sanford Fargo’s infection prevention and control.

Cindy Kennedy was named clinical employee of the year. Kennedy is a patient care technician at Sanford Fargo Medical Center.

Mary Neiss was named management employee of the year.

David Lampl was named support services employee of the year. Lampl is a lead groundskeeper, serving all Sanford locations in the Fargo-Moorhead area and neighboring network clinics.

Casey Naastad was named Sanford Health Network clinical employee of the year. She is the manager for the Sanford East Grand Forks Clinic.

Katie Gavere was named Sanford Health Network employee of the year. She is a clinical care leader for the Sanford East Grand Forks Clinic.

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Posted In Awards & Recognition, Non-Clinical Support Services, Sanford Stories

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