Cancer & the Role of Empathy in EVS

When Servicon Operations Manager, Juan Vasquez, walked by a woman sitting in a chair alone, he could tell something was wrong. She looked pale and troubled. Because he worked on the cancer treatment floor of the hospital, Juan knew that it’s likely she just finished a chemotherapy infusion. From his experience, Juan learned that to battle cancer required hope. Patients must believe in their ability to survive, but what he saw in the woman’s eyes was hopelessness.

Juan approached the woman and said, “Hello”. He quickly switched to Spanish upon realizing it was her native language so she might find comfort in speaking it. The woman looked up, startled to see that someone had stopped to talk with her.

“How are you doing with your treatment?” Juan asked. The woman shrugged, shifting to sit up a little straighter. They talked for a brief time. Before Juan returned to work, he wished the woman well, assuring her, “You got this!” as he gave her a high five.

I will never forget the look in the woman’s eye as I was leaving. It was like a spark had ignited within her. I think all she needed right then was someone to empathize with what she was going through.

Environmental services (EVS) technicians have long played a significant role in the healthcare team. Their cleaning and disinfecting practices and protocols keep healthcare facilities healthy and safe, reducing the spread of HAIs. Their services ensure that hospitals and other healthcare facilities receive high marks for cleanliness. Yet what has not received as much attention is the role EVS technicians can play in patient healing.

Cancer Calls for Empathy

Multiple studies and expert opinions point to the positive impact empathy can have on cancer patients:

  • The Cancer Treatment Center of America calls empathy especially important for helping people cope with the cancer diagnosis or treatment regime: “The more social support people have while going through a crisis, the better they may be able to cope. To be empathetic means you’re making more of an effort than others and that you’re taking time to understand because you care.”
  • According to a study cited by the National Institute of Health, “Empathy is one of the most important communication skills in clinical practice, specifically in the field of oncology.”
  • The website Well explains how “Breast cancer patients find healing in empathetic communication.”

These are just a few of the many oncology experts heralding the healing powers of empathy. That is why it is important for cancer hospitals to have EVS technicians who have been trained in this area.


  • On average, hospital EVS technicians spend more time with patients than other healthcare professionals.
  • EVS technicians often communicate with patients while they are cleaning their rooms.
  • Many EVS workers speak more than one language.
  • EVS technicians are the only visitors some patients have besides their doctor or nurse.
  • Not all patients feel comfortable discussing their fears or concerns with their doctors or nurses.
  • Many patients feel at ease talking with EVS technicians.

A cancer diagnosis is scary. The prescribed treatments for cancer can be frightening as well. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities focused on patient-centered care want to do everything they can to make their oncology patients feel safe and comfortable. This should include EVS technicians trained to use their significant powers of empathy.

The Servicon Advantage: Patient-Centered Care

With extensive experience serving the California healthcare industry, Servicon understands the importance of EVS workers to be skilled in empathy as part of its overall patient-centered care. For this reason, all our healthcare EVS technicians receive in-depth training in empathy and patient communication. Visit our healthcare page to find out more about our EVS healthcare services or contact Servicon’s VP of Strategic Partnerships, Stacey Wong, at

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