Ballentine, K. L., Woo, J., Tillman, H., & Goodkind, S. (2023). “You Have to Keep in Mind That You’re Dealing with People's Lives”: How Hospital Service Workers Enact an Ethic of Care. NEW SOLUTIONS: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, 10482911231164906.

The COVID-19 pandemic heightened the need to examine the health and safety of all workers, especially frontline workers, like hospital service workers (HSWs). Given ongoing pandemic-related challenges like healthcare labor shortages, attention to HSWs is essential. This paper draws from 3 waves of in-depth interviews conducted with HSWs from 2017 to 2020 to understand the evolving nature and challenges of their work from their perspectives. By analyzing the interviews, we found their approach to labor consistent with a feminist ethic of care. The ethic of care framework understands care as a public responsibility necessary for a functioning society. Workers perceived the ethic of care to be consistently violated by their employer, which contributed to poor working conditions, threatening the well-being of workers and patients alike. Drawing from workers’ experiences and insights, the ethic of care framework can inform organizational changes to improve both occupational health and patient care.