Infection Prevention and Environmental Services: An Essential Partnership

National Healthcare Environmental Services & Housekeeping Week is Sept. 13-19, 2009, and I encourage infection preventionists to use this week as an opportunity to forge even stronger relationships with your facility’s environmental services (ES) personnel. The environment’s contribution to the transmission of pathogenic organisms is an issue that must be shared with ES so that greater awareness of cross-contamination can be achieved during staff members’ vital cleaning responsibilities.

In this issue we devote a significant number of pages to covering the important contributions that environmental services make to hospital infection prevention as well as emphasize how critical it is for facilities to engage in aggressive cleaning and monitoring best practices to reduce the opportunity for healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) to take hold. You’ll hear from Mark Regna, at-large board member of the American Society for Healthcare Environmental Services (ASHES), as well as learn how several experts are endeavoring to create substantial change in the way hospitals approach infection control and environmental hygiene. It was my pleasure to chat with Phillip Carling, MD, who has been a huge proponent of environmental cleaning; his research into what’s really happening — or not happening, that is — with room hygiene, is eye-opening. Also in this issue, you’ll learn about green disinfectants and laundry issues related to infection prevention. Many of the ideas we address in this issue span the complexity spectrum; some practices are dependent upon cutting-edge technology, while others get back to the basics. No matter what your facility’s budget or cleaning philosophy, I’m sure you’ll agree that proper, rigorous environmental cleaning and disinfection is as imperative as hand hygiene, and that both deserve equal weight in your infection prevention programs.

It is my hope that infection preventionists will celebrate with EVS staff in September, and that ES professionals return the favor in October, when it’s time for Infection Prevention Week, Oct. 18-24, 2009. As you’ll see from Karen Martin’s story (starting on page 38 in the September 2009 print edition of ICT), collaboration between these two groups is one of the key ways to tap into shared goals, exchange best practices, and work together to engender positive change.

Until next month, bust those bugs!

Kelly M. Pyrek

Editor in chief

[email protected]

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