Magazine article Health Facilities Management

Testing Helps Build Teamwork: ATP Program Creates Strong Bonds among ES, IP and Nursing

Magazine article Health Facilities Management

Testing Helps Build Teamwork: ATP Program Creates Strong Bonds among ES, IP and Nursing

Article excerpt

As the link between environmental transmission of germs and health care-associated infections (HAIs) has become clearer over the past several years, it has helped to build the bonds among environmental services (ES), infection prevention (IP) and nursing professionals who are fighting to keep patients safe.

By 2010, for instance, well-established studies had reported on the transmission of germs via the environment. Among them, the American Journal of Infection Control published an article titled "Evaluating hygienic cleaning in health care settings: What you do not know can harm your patients."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also published the "Options for Evaluating Environmental Cleaning" tookit that explains how to implement an objective ES monitoring program. It outlines the best surfaces to choose, how to partner for best performance and provides information about different types of environmental surface measurement devices.

The industry already had been following the CDC's 2008 Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, which warned of potential secondary transmissions, but these new documents made IP, ES and nursing leaders rethink how the environment can contribute to HAIs.

Validating competency

At Greenville, S.C.-based Bon Secours St. Francis Health System's Downtown and Eastside hospitals, the ES team began looking for a method to objectively validate staff competency. Likewise, the organization's IP team was looking for a way to to prevent HAIs from cross-transmission.

With 370 total beds, the two hospitals served high-risk patients requiring open heart surgery, neurosurgery, bone marrow transplantation, labor and delivery, or orthopedic surgery. When the ES team and IP professionals read the literature, they knew they needed to redouble their efforts. In a collaborative effort, both teams came together to reduce the risk for infection and thereby improve the well-being of the organization's patient population.

To help in this endeavor, the ES team and IP professionals evaluated the pros and cons of the different adenosine triphosphate (ATP) bioluminescence monitors, looking for practicality and ease of use. ES purchased the first monitor and began random audits. ES employees were given immediate feedback, and results were used as a teaching tool, but the process was random. Results were not shared beyond the ES department.

Judging cleaning

The ATP system allowed the ES team to judge cleaning. No matter what the visual appearance of a horizontal or vertical surface throughout the hospital, ES staff could tell by swabbing and then testing the swab for 15 seconds whether the surface was clean. The team then started to do more swabs than first planned as they went from high-touch surfaces in patient rooms to departments, doctors' lounges and public areas.

During monthly meetings with support services leadership, ES produced ATP results graphs showing current progress and areas for improvement. After a couple of months, the IP team wanted to talk about using the CDC cleaning evaluation toolkit as a way to validate cleaning effectiveness. The IP team was pleased that there were data available and that a process was already in place.

While the ATP results were first posted with the ES staff and the vice president of support services for review, ES and IP then enhanced the program by sharing results with more people. The IP professionals now attend ES meetings and other events. During ES Week, the IP team caters a meal for the ES team. As more ATP results started to come in and testing was being completed, weekly meetings with the IP team became a great way for ES staff to discuss any new articles or reports that could help to improve the success of the program.

As the ES team proceeded with testing and staff became more familiar with the process, they came up with a "Clean Team Challenge. …

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