ICT asked members of industry to answer the question, "What is one way that hospitals can improve their current environmental hygiene practices?" Here are their responses:
The CDC Toolkit, "Options for Evaluating Environmental Cleaning" (December 2010), identifies the environment’s role, particularly high-touch surfaces, in the spread of infections, and the need to continuously evaluate and improve environmental cleaning. One way healthcare facilities can improve environmental hygiene practices is to implement a program that focuses on objectively evaluating the thoroughness of high-touch object cleaning. By measuring cleaning outcomes, healthcare facilities can track their progress and identify areas for improvement.
-- Linda Homan, BSN, CIC, senior manager of clinical and professional services, Ecolab Healthcare
The key to improved environmental hygiene is standardized procedures that align with a comprehensive infection prevention program and are championed by senior leadership. A collaborative relationship between environmental services (EVS) and infection prevention is critical. EVS workers should follow a blueprint approach to cleaning and disinfecting rooms throughout the facility and the division of responsibilities between EVS staff and other clinical staff must be clearly delineated. This will ensure consistency as well as accountability through an environmental cleaning monitoring program.
-- J. Hudson Garrett Jr., PhD, director of clinical affairs, PDI Healthcare
Everyday, environmental services (EVS) workers perform tasks with the intention of keeping patient rooms, operating theaters, lobby areas, hallways, etc. clean and safe for patients, visitors and staff. These workers take their role of executing safe hygiene practices seriously and they are proud of the results they accomplish. The workers know that they play a role in helping the hospital achieve positive patient outcomes.
Many times, an EVS worker has been trained as to "how" to clean a room and even the "why," but they have not had their performance regularly monitored to ensure that the correct cleaning procedures are continuing to be used. It is up to EVS management to inspect or validate the performance of their EVS workers to ensure that the workers are performing their duties correctly.
If a program does not exist, the EVS management should create their own or adopt, a cleaning validation program whereby EVS leaders review with the EVS workers the use of the correct products for cleaning and disinfecting; review the proper cleaning processes; provide access to the correct training; and finally EVS management validates how effective the worker is in cleaning. The validation process can be conducted by utilizing a florescent marker system, ATP meter, etc.
The environmental services department has a level of expectation of each EVS worker in performing their duties to the utmost. EVS leaders must continue to inspect what they expect from their workers, but the leaders must take responsibility to validate the effectiveness of each worker.
-- Peter Teska, Americas portfolio lead for infection prevention, Diversey