Norton Children’s housekeeping employee works magic with patients

Guy Harvey forms special bonds with families

When doctors and nurses at Norton Children’s Hospital have a difficult patient, they call on a magician. He doesn’t have a cape or a hat, but he does have a mop. And he truly works magic.

Guy Harvey has worked in environmental services at Norton Children’s Hospital for seven years. His job description mainly involves making sure patient rooms are clean and comfortable. But there’s much more to this former mechanic from Alabama than his soft-spoken nature and beaming smile. He can get kids to open up when no one else can.

“There are times when nurses can’t get their patients to take their medication and they call me to help,” Guy said. “They’ll usually take their meds for me.”

“Everyone loves Guy”

Guy forms special bonds with his patients and their families. He says it’s the best part of his job.

“Kids are more like little grown-ups,” he said. “When I’m in their rooms I take the time to get to know them. If they want to play videogames, I’ll game with them for a few minutes. Sometimes they just want somebody to joke and laugh with. I love it.”

The kids love it too. Patients give him nicknames, like “Uncle Guy.” Former patients and their families call to check up on him — some on a weekly basis. They bring him gifts.

“Everyone loves Guy,” said Cis Gruebbel, R.N., MSN, chief nursing officer, Norton Children’s Hospital. “He does everything he can to make patients feel at home.”

Harvey recently worked his magic to bring together 10-year-old Dale Howser and 11-year-old Za’Niyah Jackson, two patients on the heart transplant list. Guy had established a relationship with both families when he found out their mothers planned to do laundry at an off-site laundromat. He introduced them and suggested they go together.

As a result, Dale and Za’Niyah became close friends and supported each other while they got new hearts. The friendship continues through their recoveries.

“The kids stay in touch with each other,” said Shaunisha Martindale, Za’Niyah’s mom. “We will try to have our office visits on the same day to give them a chance to continue on their journey. They are now heart buddies for life.”

A positive attitude is the secret

Guy has seen many happy endings but admits his magic can’t fix everything.

“I’ve seen kids take their final breaths,” he said. “I remember when one little boy died and his parents invited me to stay with them around his bed. They made me feel so welcomed, part of the family. I even went to his funeral.”

What’s his secret? How does he have such an impact? Harvey admits it’s really not magic, but more his outlook on his work and his life.

“I really never have a bad day at work,” he said. “I always come in with a good, positive attitude. I want to give 150 percent and try to get better every day.”

Though Harvey could go back to working on cars (he still loves to work on Chevys in his spare time), he has no plans to retire from Norton Children’s Hospital anytime soon.

“It brings me joy every day to see kids going home,” he said. “Knowing they will go on to live their lives — it’s the best feeling in the world.”