In the United States, 2,000,000 patients will contract a Hospital Acquired Infection (HAI) this year, and 99,000 of those will die. The remaining 1.9 million who have been injured, face extended hospital stays, additional treatments, and untold suffering. This happens every year, year after year. The CDC has stated that improved environmental hygiene is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to reduce HAIs. This is where the Environmental Services Team comes in; the role of EVS is critical in preventing HAIs!
On average, Hospital Acquired Infections cost $37,000 per patient and the Hospital pays these costs themselves. Did you know that the hospital is not permitted to bill the patient for any HAI related expenses? It has been shown that even small improvements in cleanliness can manifest in monumental savings. This means that taking the time to properly clean a room doesn’t just save lives, it saves money too. Proper cleaning can avoid the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars that a weeks-long stay due to an HAI would cost the hospital.
Anything that the Environmental Services team can do to improve the effectiveness of the housekeeping team will save money and reduce infections. We have been working in hospitals for 30 years now and have seen some traits that are common across all the leading hospitals. These include solid management, staff appreciation, on-going training, and an active QA program.
Solid, Predictable Management
As a rule, people like to work on a team that is well run, where they feel appreciated, and they believe they are doing something important. The Supervisors and Managers on your staff set the management tone, so selecting and promoting the right person to these roles is key. We always look for someone who is dependable and a role model to their peers. Of course, if you are promoting from within your existing ranks, you need to keep in mind that an excellent Supervisor may have a very different set of strengths than an excellent Housekeeper. Choose your supervisors and managers carefully as they are often seen as the face of management and make sure to review them regularly.
Communication and feeling appreciated
Communicating with and training your Housekeepers is critical. You must show people how to do something, and then tell them why it is important. The majority of workers want to do an excellent job, they are proud to fill the role of EVS. It is up to management to help them accomplish that. Ongoing training helps your staff understand what your expectations are, and it gives you the opportunity to listen to your team, one-on-one. Keep in mind that you need to train and re-train your supervisors and managers as well.
Regular QA inspections
One common factor that we have seen with the leading hospitals is their attention to quality standards. These hospitals regularly evaluate their housekeepers’ performance with QA checks of individual rooms after they have been cleaned. These inspections look closely at how well this Housekeeper has actually cleaned the room.
Some facilities do visual checks while others carry out gel/fluorescent testing or even ATP testing of the surfaces in the room. What they all have in common is that they regularly do these inspections to assess how well each employee is fulfilling the role of EVS. After testing, they review their findings with the housekeeper in question, and keep track of the findings. This gives management the information they need to target training, congratulate exemplary work, and support requests for additional budgets, FTEs, or equipment.
Hiring and Retaining the right people
Finding and retaining high quality staff is now tougher than ever. Competition from neighbouring hospitals, eldercare facilities, and even the fast-food industry makes it difficult to find and keep the right people. While competitive pay is obviously important, it is not the most important factor. Most Housekeepers we speak to are less concerned about their pay than they are about the quality of the team, work culture, their management, and the chance for advancement.
Speaking with and listening to staff, combined with a solid training program leads to a better, more effective EVS team. These EVS teams are responsible for reducing the incidence and costs of HAIs.
Stephen Walsh is the founder and CEO of Walsh Integrated Inc. With 30-years‘ experience in the healthcare industry Stephen brings a wealth of know-how to bear on his client’s challenges. Walsh Integrated provides automated QA programs to Hospitals and the Education market. If you would like to learn how Walsh ‘s technology can help you reduce HAIs and save lives while you save money and time, then please contact us here.