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Environmental Staff Cuts Expose HAI Risk

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, August 15, 2011

This is where HR can help, primarily by lifting the profile of cleaning staff with other hospital employees. "Building that bridge between administration and infection preventionists and environmental services is key," Pettis says.

A little recognition for a job well done is an inexpensive way to build staff loyalty. Most of all, the recognition has to be coupled with training to build competence and efficiency and professional pride. "There is a constant need for training. Not just training but observing to ensure the training has been effective," Pettis says.  

The C-suite may need some training, too. "We're trying to make admitting and the C-suite understand that you cannot put pressure on environmental services to take short cuts because we all understand how important through put is but you can't shortchange the cleaning process."

If your senior leadership needs more convincing about the importance of a quality cleaning crew, you can point out that starting in 2012, HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) will include a query on hospital cleanliness.

"Of the questions on the survey for patients is 'How would you rate the cleanliness of your room when you were hospitalized?' And by the way, you don't get partial credit for this. The patients have to say 100% of the time it was good or your hospital gets dinged," Pettis says. "It helps explain why a lot of C-suites are paying so much attention to this."

See Also:
Top 10 Infection Control Challenges
For Infection Prevention, Try Duct Tape
Risk of Surgical Infection Rises with OR Noise Levels
Infection Prevention Pilot Slashes CLABSI by 35%
CDC, NIH Revise Bloodstream Infection Prevention Guidelines
Private ICU Rooms Slash HAI Rates by Half


John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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