If the pandemic taught us anything, it is how important efficient cleaning is to our health and safety.
In the ISSA State of the Industry 2021 report, Nick Morris from Western Paper Distributors states:
“Interestingly, it took a global pandemic to highlight the importance of having clean and safe spaces. It is encouraging that our industry has been advanced to the front lines as a result.”
The importance of cleaning for health and safety is all too familiar for healthcare and hospital facilities, where preventing the spread of HAI’s (Hospital Acquired Infections) and other life-threatening pathogens and viruses is one of the top safety measures they must take.
Hospital and healthcare staff and the cleaning teams in those facilities are not new to this concept—the last 20-30 years has brought with them in-depth research into just how important efficient and frequent cleaning in hospital and healthcare facilities is and the actual impact it can have on patients and staff.
According to research done in 2014 by Stephanie J. Dancer, and published in the journal Clinical Microbiology Review, research beginning in the 1990’s suggests that by cutting cleaning staff, Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI’s) start to rise. This led to further research on the impact of not enough cleaning staff.
According to the study, the response was to monitor the amount of cleaning in healthcare facilities and more specifically to pay close attention to what types of surfaces and tools (ex. blood pressure cuffs) were being cleaned, and how often cleaning of these items was done.
The research suggests that more frequent cleaning has a direct impact on the reduction of HAI’s and the spread of pathogens and other viruses.
At the time of the study, research was still being done to show to what extent and what type of cleaning is necessary to protect patients and staff from getting an HAI.
While the study goes on to analyze diverse types of infections and how they spread in different wards of hospitals, in most cases one thing is clear, frequent and consistent cleaning is necessary in reducing the spread of infection.
For example, in one case, after “infection control interventions, such as patient isolation and hand hygiene programs” were fully implemented as suggested, to contain an outbreak of MRSA (methicillin-resistant S. Aureus—a staph bacteria that becomes resistant to antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections), the strain was still detected on hospital surfaces and the outbreak persisted.
According to the study: the response was to double the number of hours of cleaning per week from “60 h to 120 h per week” and “there was an immediate reduction in the number of new acquisitions. The authors [of the study] believed that the extra cleaning was crucial in terminating the outbreak...” (Dancer).
This research makes it clear that the job of hospital cleaning staff is vital to patient health and safety and that measures must be taken to help them keep up with increased demand.
In order to be prepared for an influx of patients, and to make sure a healthcare facility is clean 24/7, cleaning staff must follow strict cleaning plans.
The CDC outlines key methods for how to clean different parts of healthcare facilities. These plans include:
These three factors are to be determined first in terms of designing plans that work to stop the spread of infections. The CDC also notes implementation factors such as:
This is just a basic premise and the detailed plans can be accessed on the CDC website.
While cleaning floors is one of the final steps in making sure wards and rooms in healthcare facilities have been meticulously cleaned, it is an incredibly crucial step—especially considering research that suggests pathogens can be tracked from one room to another on the bottoms of shoes, and even kicked up into the air.
Fleet management software can help with:
While following clearly defined protocols and plans, site managers can review machine usage reports to track when and where a machine is used, for how long, and the frequency of use.
Access to this data gives a clearer picture of how long cleaning processes are taking and may reveal opportunities for improvement.
The CDC recommends cleaning with a top to bottom pattern so that anything that may be wiped down and fall to the floor will be picked up last. Using these patterns and following a protocol that uses floor cleaning as the last step allows site managers to know where staff are at in their cleaning process and can help with timing and communication with hospital staff waiting for rooms and specific areas to be ready for the next patient.
This benefit goes beyond reassuring healthcare workers as the data can be logged, stored, and used to speak to healthcare administrators and stakeholders who are invested in the confirmation of clean spaces.
This information can be referenced during any assessments a healthcare facility may go through, and the data can be used for research purposes in the fight against the spread of HAI’s and other communicable diseases.
Autonomous solutions can help in efforts to keep hospitals clean too. Not only are they able to be deployed into environments that may not be safe for a person, they can also augment cleaning staff. This leads to:
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