Magazine article Health Facilities Management

The ES Department's Role in Construction: Eight Steps for Handling Renovation Projects

Magazine article Health Facilities Management

The ES Department's Role in Construction: Eight Steps for Handling Renovation Projects

Article excerpt

Environmental services (ES) technicians play a critical role in today's hospitals. Their previous focus on keeping a health care facility clean is only a limited view of how important the ES team is to the mission of the entire facility.

With the emergence of drug-resistant organisms and the abundance of specialized products used in hospitals, an ES team needs to be highly educated and armed to help reduce health care-associated infections (HAIs) and improve patient satisfaction scores.

A team approach

The primary goal for infection preventionists in any facility is to prevent patient-to-patient transmission of infectious microorganisms as well as to keep visitors and colleagues safe. Frequent brainstorming of various strategies for environmental hygiene will ensure a safer facility for everyone.

Creating a multidisciplinary brainstorming team increases collaboration among all departments and is vital to improved patient care. In the past, each department in the hospital had its own mission; seldom did departments cross into other territories. However, under the Affordable Care Act, everyone must collaborate because federal reimbursement is being tied directly to the quality of care and the facility's HCAHPS scores.

Education remains a key priority when explaining the need among departments of improving infection statistics. Collaboration also means gaining more diverse knowledge so that everyone on the floor can watch for improper or neglected practices. It should be everyone's goal to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and to improve outcomes for all patients.

For example, meeting with the director of nursing or the nurse manager also is an important aspect of keeping the patient population safe. Nurse managers can explain any health situations, such as allergies or chronic conditions, which might preclude the use of some cleaning products. If there have been any changes in a patient's health status that could be affected by chemicals or techniques, nurse managers and ES technicians must be aware of them.

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Continual construction

ES technicians must remain flexible to constant changes within the facility. Keeping up with a 24/7 facility means that staff, visitors and outside vendors are always moving about the complex, creating different needs at different times.

To further complicate things, hospitals are continually undergoing renovations and maintenance work, meaning that areas normally scheduled for routine cleaning may be under construction or even isolated from the rest of the facility. ES technicians must keep the perimeters of working areas clean, watch for leaks and often enter the isolated areas to remove trash or prepare the area when opening to patients.

When construction contractors turn spaces over to the hospital for use before terminal cleaning and disinfection has occurred, ES staff members are called on to disinfect the renovated area and prepare it for patients with little time remaining before occupancy.

Daily cleaning routines become more intense due to renovation and maintenance work. As additional materials and equipment are transported throughout the facility, the supply carts can track microscopic debris, which requires cleaning and scrubbing despite not being part of the original daily work plan.

Boxes of construction-related supplies that were stored in unconditioned, damp warehouses and then transported and stored in the hospital can create unsafe conditions for immunocompromised patients with the potential for mold to become airborne.

Eight steps

As risks of HAIs increase due to construction and other external factors, ES technicians should have access to their infection control awareness training materials at all times to help them recognize potential dangers and know how to properly treat the items or isolate them from patients. …

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