Housekeeping staff does more than clean

Environmental services staff make positive impact on patient engagement and safetypg 2 top

A housekeeper as an ambassador? As a quality control assistant? Both are true at Hallmark Health System, where environmental services staff help improve
the patient experience and enhance patient safety while keeping all areas of the hospital clean and hygienic.

Environmental services enhancements have both high- and low-tech elements. A new cleaning verification system called Hygiena ATP uses a swab to test multiple surfaces in a room after cleaning to make sure the room is really clean. “We consistently swab the same 10 places in each room,” said Ismael Garcia, director of environmental services and transportation. “The ATP swab picks up anything that is alive, like bacteria.” The system tracks cleanliness by swab point as well as
employee performance. For example, a monitoring report earlier this year for one of the operating rooms showed that while instrument and operating tables were very clean, staff needed additional training to ensure that door handles and light switches were equally clean.

Environmental services also has implemented a patient experience program in which housekeeping staff become part of the team on a unit. “Basically, each nursing unit has its own housekeeper and backup,” said Hugh Kelleher, vice president of support and ancillary services. Housekeepers engage with patients and can serve
as an advocate of sorts. “For example, if a housekeeper hears from a patient that his lunch hasn’t arrived, the housekeeper will tell a nurse,” he added.

Management also plays an active role in routine maintenance. They conduct environment-of-care tours every Friday to “look at everything from chipping paint to damage to walls to coffee stains,” said Kelleher. “This is important to patients’ comfort and peace of mind. If they see a big hole in the wall in their room, patients might think ‘if the staff is not taking care of that hole, what else are they not taking care of, including me?’ We want our physical space to reflect the quality and safety of the care we provide.” 

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