Infection Control Today - 11/2003: Perspectives


A Revolutionary Opportunity

By Patti Costello

More than 450 healthcare environmentalservice professionals who were looking for access to the top resources ineducation, products and services and people definitely found them at the 18thannual conference and technical exhibition of the American Society forHealthcare Environmental Services (ASHES) held in Philadelphia Sept. 21- 25,2003.

Educational sessions provided powerful take-home tools and criticalinformation about hot issues that included staffing and productivity, infectioncontrol, disaster readiness, waste recycling, JCAHO issues and much more.

With a sold-out exhibit hall, this conference was certainly the mostsuccessful in recent memory, stated Weston Thiss, CHESP, president ofASHES. The energy level and excitement was felt throughout the hotel, witheven other guests asking what the buzz was all about.

Interactions with fellow attendees from across the country were key tointegrating knowledge, expanding horizons and supporting implementation of therevolutionary ideas germinated at the conference. By request, ASHES resurrected the Circles of Excellence, a peerto- peersharing of ideas and best practices during breakfast and lunch. Attendees heardhow others have successfully dealt with reducing costs, labor/union relations,cleaning critical areas, recruitment and retention and other hot button topicsAttendees circulated among the tables every 15 minutes for the topic of theirchoice.

The top speakers at the conference included Stephen M. Gower, CSP, whoshared his strategies for refining how others perceive you and Joe Tye,president of Paradox 21 Inc., who discussed the Twelve Core Action Valuesfor building leadership skills. Both keynoters were very well received. Generalsessions included presentations by Laura Gaunder of The Ritz-Carlton onlegendary service; Tony Schifano, president of Antos Environmental, onadding sizzle to your career; Mary Brockman, RN of Brachman &Associates on Infection Control: Narrowing the Gap Between Science Regulationand Practice; Laura Brannen of Hospitals for Healthy Environment onchanging the way environmental services does business; and ASHES member BobHodnik on productivity standards, work assignments and benchmarking.

The social activities also took the spotlight, highlighted by the welcomereception and tour aboard the USS New Jersey, the U.S. Navys most decorated battleship. Sponsored by Waste Management and ARAMARKServiceMaster Facility Services, the venue and the weather could not have beenmore perfect. Being on this enormous battleship and hearing and seeing firsthand its amazing accomplishments at sea, was captivating. Entertainment providedby Western Pest Services consisted of a Mummers band that kept the crowd ontheir toes most of the evening. The conference also featured several othersocial events, including attendance at one of the Philadelphia Phillies lastgames played at Veterans Stadium with a special Field of Memoriesfan appreciation game, the new member, first time attendee reception, and theASHES Annual Awards Banquet.

The awards segment of the banquet lead off with the Partners for ChangeAwards presented by Hospitals for Healthy Environment (H2E). With over 27facilities being recognized for their efforts to make healthcare environmentallyfriendly, it was clear the H2E and ASHES endeavors have been successful indrawing considerable interest and participation.

ASHES also bestowed the societys highest honor, the Phoenix Award, to EdwardBarr, manager of support services at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital inPhiladelphia. The Phoenix Award recognizes an individual who has made a lastingimpact through outstanding contributions to the growth and professionalism ofthe Society and to the field of healthcare environmental services and textilecare. Other awards presented as part of the program included:

  • James Wolffbrandt Award: Martin Shafer, manager ofoperations at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, Iowa. Thisaward is presented to one who, without compensation or personal gain, activelymentors, educates and guides environmental services or textile careprofessionals.
  • J. Owen Flynn Memorial Award: John Fitzgerald, CHESP,acting associate director of administration and support services at the VAGreater Los Angeles Healthcare System in Los Angeles. Similarly, this award is presented to one who, without compensation orpersonal gain, actively performed a service or services to the benefit of theirhospital, community, state or country.

  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Wayne Warren, CHESP,retired director of environmental program service, US Department of VeteransAffairs in Washington, D.C. Warren was nominated for the Lifetime AchievementAward in recognition of 42 years of outstanding service to the environmentalservice profession, his superior knowledge and exceptional skills as a leader,educator and mentor and his whole-hearted involvement in ASHES.
  • Environmental Stewardship Award: Martha Meister, manager of support functions at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vt.
  • Innovator Award: J. Douglas Roill, CHESP, generalmanager at Arizona State Hospital in Phoenix.
  • Recognition Award: Jerold Wiley, director of environmental services at Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington, W. Va.
  • Excellence in Communication Award: Greater Philadelphia ASHES chapter, Ed Barr, president, Philadelphia.
  • Excellence in Education Award: (two presented) ¡ RockyMountain Society for Healthcare Environmental Services, Danny Tolar,president, Ft. Collins, Colo.
  • South Carolina Society for Healthcare EnvironmentalServices, Bill Thomashitis, president, Greenwood, S.C.
  • Networking for Professionalism Award: Greater Midwest Chapter of ASHES, Marty Shafer, president, Iowa City, Iowa.

ASHES, of the American Hospital Association, is the premier professionalorganization for environmental services, housekeeping, waste management andtextile care professionals in the healthcare industry. ASHES provideseducational programs, opportunities to network with peers on a national level,recognition for personal and professional achievements, as well as affiliationand collaboration with the American Hospital Association on public policy andadvocacy issues related to environmental services, waste initiatives andinfection control. See for more information.

Patti Costello is executive director of ASHES.

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