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One of the most important partnerships in the hospital should be the one forged between the environmental services (ES) department and the infection control department. There is frequently a disconnect between these two vital entities, even though they represent a singular way to close the loop on the transmission of infectious pathogens. Thats why, in celebration of National Healthcare Environmental Services and Housekeeping Week, Sept. 10-16, 2006, I want to remind everyone how significant it is to keep these two departments in sync, working together to address issues related to proper surface and equipment cleaning, laundry and linen handling, sanitation, and general hygiene throughout the healthcare facility. I cant think of another healthcare worker who has more frequent contact with literally every area of the hospital, and so it is crucial that these individuals be lauded, educated, and supported in their responsibilities.
One complaint that I hear consistently from infection control practitioners is the need to make a strong case for continuing education; Im sure it is not much different for ES managers who must beg administrators to allow their staff to attend industry conferences that would provide much-needed instruction and updates on key issues. For all the ES supervisors out there, I want to direct your attention to a terrific set of talking points assembled by the American Society for Healthcare Environmental Services (ASHES) to assist you in making this case for conference attendance and educational development.
The steps include identifying the educational session/conference you would like to attend and targeting information that is relevant to your position and or circumstances in your facility; these sessions should lead to direct implementation and outcomes that will help you and your healthcare organization grow, whether by increasing productivity or cutting costs, etc. Another step is determining how your attendance will add value to your healthcare organization; ASHES advises that you should be specific in providing examples your supervisor will identify with, and describe the reason(s) why you think this is a valuable investment for your career and for the department. To access these talking points, go to: http://www.ashes.org/ashes/content/educationaldev.pdf
I hope you will be successful in making your case with your administrator, and that you will be able to attend ASHES 21st annual conference being held Sept. 24-28, 2006. If you find yourself in Nashville, please stop by the session on Sept. 26, Here and There, but Everywhere? A Green Cleaning Panel Discussion, which I will be moderating. The panel, sponsored by 3M Commercial Care, will feature speakers Dr. Michael Barry, scientific advisor for the Cleaning Industry Research Institute; Kevin McNulty of 3M Commercial Care; Steve Ashkin of The Ashkin Group LLC; and CDC microbiologist Lynne Sehulster, PhD, M(ASCP). Well debate green cleaning, the appropriateness of its application throughout the healthcare setting, and its relationship to infection-prevention guidelines. For more conference details, go to: http://www.ashes.org/ashes/conference/2006/conferenceindex.html
Until next month, bust those bugs!
Kelly M. Pyrek
Editor in Chief