Magazine article Health Facilities Management

United Front: How ES Can Partner with Nursing and Infection Control

Magazine article Health Facilities Management

United Front: How ES Can Partner with Nursing and Infection Control

Article excerpt

Health care-associated infections (HAIs) from such pathogens as vancomycin-resistant Enterococci, Clostridium difficile, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus are serious concerns for every hospital and health care facility.

Standing between the pathogens and their victims are dedicated members of the health care team including environmental services (ES) personnel, nurses and infection prevention specialists.

Each of these groups is dedicated to taking the necessary steps to reduce HAIs, but operating in silos can go only so far. Working together in a mutually supportive workplace culture is key to reducing the risks for acquiring HAIs and ensuring the optimal environment for patient recovery.

Collaborative efforts

Fortunately, there's been increased recognition in the value of everyone who plays a part in sanitation efforts, including ES staff. With this new recognition, health care facilities now can deliver a three pronged attack to address the cleanliness of environments and surfaces.

A document called "ANA/AONE Principles for Collaborative Relationships between Clinical Nurses and Nurse Managers" [see sidebar, Page 40] recently was developed by the American Nurses Association and the American Organization of Nurse Executives to help with collaboration specific to nursing that could be applied to the need for overall collaboration among ES, nursing and infection prevention departments. It includes the following principles:

Communication. Staff members should be sure they are speaking to the right person to communicate their messages. They also should be sure they present correct information in a clear manner. Spoken communications require that staff members know the intent, expectations and purpose of a message.

For example, in a group of eight hospitals in central Indiana, ES staff communicate daily with nursing and other departments on specific needs of the facility. Simple maintenance work orders are communicated to the appropriate department, allowing nurses an opportunity to preserve their time for more patient care-related interventions.

Likewise, at a large, 400-bed hospital in the Atlanta suburbs, the ES team has been working successfully with members of the nursing department as well as other department directors on daily needs and expectations.

This is accomplished by setting standards and utilizing management software. Every member of the ES management team has a required number of scheduled and unscheduled inspections throughout all areas of the hospital. Monthly reports are generated and trends are reviewed.

Active listening also is necessary to fully comprehend the message being relayed. This includes asking questions to ensure comprehension, and creating a safe, open environment for the speaker to feel confident. A message should receive the contemplation it deserves.

At a 350-bed hospital in northeast Ohio, for instance, ES managers are rounding daily on the patient units and actively listening to the needs of the nursing department. Making themselves visible and readily available is critical to the partnership. Nursing sees ES managers multiple times throughout the shifts and can resolve issues quickly without having to pick up the phone or submit a work order.

Follow-up is key to closing the loop on any requested issue. ES managers don't assume a task is completed; they check for themselves, report that the task is completed and ask if there is anything else that may be needed. It's all basic customer service that sometimes gets lost in everyone's busy day.

Authentic relationships. The ANA-AONE document recommends that staff members work to display integrity, ensuring that actions match words. This will, in turn, allow them to show confidence in each other's actions, knowing that each is being true to himself or herself. An important part of this is displaying 100 percent honesty. …

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