Candace Kingston, an Environmental Services team member on the 5B Medical unit, just celebrated one year at IU Health this October. Her
pivot to a career in healthcare was personal as she strives to honor her
By Charlotte Stefanski, email@example.com, writer for IU Health's Indianapolis Suburban Region
When Candace Kingston comes to work at IU Health North, she greets her fellow team members and makes sure they smile at least once during their shifts.
Kingston, an Environmental Services team member on the 5B Medical unit, just celebrated one year at IU Health this October. Before joining the team, she worked as a barista at Starbucks and was training to be a store manager.
Her pivot to a career in healthcare was personal as she strives to honor her mother’s memory.
“I do it for her. On my way to work, I always say a prayer to let my mom watch and let her be proud,” Kingston says.
In November 2021, Kingston’s mother thought she caught a cold.
It was supposed to be a joyous time, as her mother had just retired and was getting ready to celebrate her favorite holiday. Instead, she was checked into a local hospital and was diagnosed with COVID-19.
Two days later, her mother was moved to the Intensive Care unit (ICU) and doctors told Kingston that tough decisions may need to be made.
“At that point, she was still coherent. She just wanted us to stay because it wasn't pleasant for her. She said nobody smiles. She said, ‘I just want to smile one more time.’”
Her mother passed away that Thanksgiving evening, but Kingston made her a promise.
“When she was still awake, I said, ‘I'll make a difference in healthcare someday, Mom. I know I don't have an education beyond high school, but I'll make a difference and I'll make you proud,’” she recalls.
Kingston began applying for positions at IU Health North—and she didn’t give up. She applied four times, and finally, she got the call.
She joined North’s Environmental Services (EVS) team in October 2022. She loves the people and the atmosphere and tries to bring joy not only to team members, but to patients and families as well.
“I love that hearts connect here. I feel like it's more than just a hello when you pass by,” Kingston explains. “Everyone here connects at the heart. Everyone tries to help—the volunteering and the programs we have—it's a good place.”
Most recently, Kingston volunteered at the hospital’s popcorn day and the trunk-or-treat.
IU Health North has more than 2,000 employees, but when handing out popcorn, everyone seemed to know Kingston and stopped to chat.
“The fact that people say hello and they're genuine—I never expected that, that I can have an impact like that,” Kingston says. “When a patient passed away, their family came back six weeks later. They brought orchids and thanked me for knowing their names and for always coming in and being happy. I just didn't expect any of it.”
Because of that, Kingston feels like she’s keeping her promise to her mother. For those who are looking to get into healthcare, her advice is to never give up.
“Keep trying, because sometimes, you just get overlooked. Keep trying, come in with an open heart and you'll be embraced. Never say you’re not enough,” she says. “I love what I do and I feel very honored and blessed to come here every day.”