cleaning card in foreground looking down long hallway

Paradigm Shift: How Healthcare Facilities can Meet a New Standard of Clean

About the author : Jeff Paulson

CEO, Healthcare, Sodexo North America

Published on : 7/9/19
  • Professional cleaning isn’t just about cleaning restrooms and mopping floors anymore; today’s Environmental Services teams must focus on preventing the spread of illness and infection.

    How Did We Get Here? Organisms like MRSA and VRE have been created by overuse and incorrect use of antibiotics, and outbreaks like Ebola and Zika spread quickly due to increased global travel. These new, life-threatening germs and pathogens can exist on a visibly clean surface for weeks or even months, living on counters, door handles, computers, phones, and tools.

    The Paradigm Shift can be the hardest part: “Visibly clean,” the previous performance standard, is no longer good enough. The first paradigm shift is to take a sophisticated and aggressive stance on infection prevention.

    Additionally, medical advances - new medicine, equipment, and treatments - get all of the attention. Unfortunately, cleaning tactics have not kept pace with these advancements and needs more investment. The second paradigm shift we must confront in environmental services is reversing the classic tendency to treat the illness instead of preventing the illness.

    Invest in Your People Approximately 85% of cleaning cost is labor. In a cost-cutting world, this is one area no healthcare facility can afford to skimp.

    How Sodexo does it: to keep costs down, we have created rigorous and standardized training modules so we are not reinventing the wheel at each site and with each new hire.

    Get them Certified: Additionally, we certify front-line staff in all aspects of cleaning, waste removal, patient satisfaction and infection prevention. Here are the certification programs we believe in, and utilize for our staff:

    • American Hospital Association
    • Association for the Healthcare Environment
    • The Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Technician (CHEST) - a 24 hour course with an online exam to become certified.

    Know the consequences: In our business, lives are at risk every day, and not just on the operating table. It may be a comforting touch or taking notes at the keyboard that spreads disease that can kill or seriously injure. People must be highly trained in how their behaviors spread pathogens and which processes attack the problem head on. This training also creates a crew that sees infection control as a career and not just a stepping-stone job.

    Keep Technologies Updated: The technology necessary to keep pathogens at bay changes so rapidly that last week’s industry leading approach is now yesterday’s news. No quick fix or single solution to infection control exists; rather, environmental services organizations must be constantly on alert for new technologies and the best ways to implement them.

    These cleaning techniques are crucial in hospitals and other health facilities, where patients bring pathogens daily. However, high-traffic sites such as hotels and cruise ships have also proven vulnerable to the spread of infection.

    Do you have concerns about infection control in your workplace? Tell us how you prevent the spread of germs in the comments.