Singing Sensation Sweeps … The Hospital

As thankless jobs go, cleaning at a county hospital has to be one of the thank-least. Most folks walk right by like you're not even there.

As you can imagine, it must be horrible, CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports.

"I love it," one worker says.

"Being happy, with a smile on our face," another says.

"We have a good time!" a third chimes in.

Hartman could be wrong.

In fact, some workers at Cook County's Stroger Hospital say their jobs have become downright joyous. Listen to them and you'll hear why: The Environmental Services Choir sings loud enough to raise the dead.

Just down the hall from the dead — there's a morgue at the end of a corridor — in the basement of the hospital, this group gets together during their lunch hour twice a week. They've been doing it for the past three years.

They first formed this choir for what was supposed to be a one-time gig — just a little performance for an Environmental Services office party.

But the singers had such a good time they've been rehearsing ever since, which no doubt pleases the man upstairs.

Really, the man upstairs — their boss, Arndell Ricks.

"I approve of it. What they bring is so positive. The people who are involved are energized by it," Ricks said. "You can even see it in their work performance."

"Once I get through singing and the spirit comes, I'm like, 'let's go, let's go, I'm ready for anything now!'" says mop specialist and lead singer Claudia Ellis.

So far, she says, the choir hasn't really performed for anyone other than a few coworkers, some mops and a broom or two. In fact, she never thought of this as anything more than a moment with God. Until Hartman brought it up.

"Would you be willing to give up this job if you got famous?" he asked.

"Yes!" she told him with a laugh.

Don't be surprised if they do catch on. Because they are, by far, the most contagious thing at this hospital.

  • Christine Lagorio

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