Cleanliness is Next to . . . Infection Control

Environmental Services’ role in battling hospital infections

In addition to helping create a great first impression and contributing to sustainability ratings, patient satisfaction and staff morale, Environmental Services (ES) teams are increasingly being recognized for their role in improving infection rates.

Keeping hospital rooms and overall environment clean and ridding them of microscopic germs is essential to controlling infections. Here are some of the best practices we’ve gleaned from several success stories.

Communication and collaboration.

ES should be part of the multidisciplinary team that defines infection program goals and standards and reviews progress toward those goals. ES early and constant participation assures their full buy-in.

Improved cleaning procedures.

In addition to helping create a great first impression and contributing to sustainability ratings, patient satisfaction and staff morale, Environmental Services (ES) teams are increasingly being recognized for their role in improving infection rates.

ES teams can define more aggressive cleaning procedures, and develop ES staff training to implement them, as well as standards for supervisorial monitoring. For example, teams might increase concentration on high touch areas and use an “all-or-nothing” checklist approach whereby all components of checklist must be completed for room to be considered cleaned. Since staff turnover is often an issue in ES, infection control training may need to be repeated.

Enabling and monitoring compliance.

ES can specify and maintain waterless hand hygiene stations and supplies of personal protective equipment (gloves and masks) at key locations. Adding touchless paper towel dispensers can reduce waste and more importantly improve hygiene and reduce the risk of cross-contamination. ES staff can and should receive training on hand hygiene procedures and help monitor all staff compliance (“see something, say something”).

Improvement is a process, not a project.

Infection control takes constant vigilance and monitoring. That certainly applies to the ES team and continued supervisorial focus. Feedback on the importance and effectiveness of their work in reducing or controlling infection rates can help maintain morale. When the ES teams are part of programs that improve infection rates, their success can be a great motivator and source of pride.