Nominations for 2nd Annual Hygiene Specialist Excellence Award Due Dec. 31

Environmental services (ES) managers have until Dec. 31 to nominate the ES professional of their choice for the second annual Hygiene Specialist Excellence award.

This award is a great way to start the New Year by recognizing a member of your Environmental Services (ES) department, says George Clarke, CEO of UMF Corporation, developer of the PerfectCLEAN® Environmental Hygiene Systems. The award was established to acknowledge the invaluable contribution of ES, the first line of defense in providing a safe patient environment and reducing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

Nominations are welcome on the form provided at:

Nominations may be submitted on or before Dec. 31, 2011, and should include a brief description as to how the nominee has demonstrated the highest professional standards and diligence in supporting infection prevention. The recipient will be announced on Jan. 15, 2012. The Hygiene Specialist Excellence award includes an all-expense-paid vacation for two to South Beach, Fla, including airfare and beachfront accommodations.

 We want to help elevate the role of ES within the hospital hierarchy and give them the respect theyre due. Clarke says.

Recently, Clarke said he fears ES is being overlooked as Americas hospitals simultaneously scramble to cut costs and raise levels of patient satisfaction incorporating the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey and scores.

Clarke said he bases his fears on a recent UMF ad-hoc survey of ES managers across the United States, which indicates that many hospitals are taking steps to reduce the number of full time ES staff in efforts to cut costs as healthcare expenses escalate.

ES managers polled indicated that their departments were, on average, short by 5 to 9 full-time people, Clarke says.

This is happening in spite of hospital expansions, expanded services, increased patient admissions and shorter lengths of stay, which create more room turnover, he adds.

Fortunately, clinical researchers and some medical centers have begun to realize that ES is about more than just having a squeaky-clean, shiny hospital floor to make a positive impression on patients and visitors. ES is about patient care and patient safety at least it should be, he says.

For example, last year, over a six-month period, Chicago-based Roseland Community Hospital reduced to zero the rate of infection of a specific HAI in its surgical units. The hospitals ES department played a significant role in the success of a facility-wide team effort, which included organization-wide training of all staff on cleaning and disinfection of equipment and environmental surface hot spots.

This type of success in the battle against HAIs is very achievable, Clarke says. Structured educational programs that focus on training, education and ongoing reinforcement of best practices create a safer patient environment.

Clarke encouraged hospitals to refocus their efforts on environmental surfaces and people contact points. Its frightening how many hospitals still use retired cotton materials in patient rooms and other critical areas. These inferior products have zero mechanical performance and are known to inactivate quaternary disinfectants, he said. It has been shown that programs that combining infection prevention with hand-hygiene dramatically reduce HAIs in hospital settings.

Clearly, ES is the first line of defense in the battle against HAIs, Clarke says.