Preparing your EVS (environmental services) team to meticulously clean healthcare facility rooms requires in-depth training and support from leadership staff. Hospital cleaning procedures are much more involved than typical cleaning practices.
EVS teams must be trained to clean hospital rooms based on what happened in the room with the patient, understand the best practices for diverse types of cleaners and disinfectants, and due to the nature of these facilities, even be ready to engage with and help ease tensions of patients.
Not only that, but EVS is a first line of defense against spreading HAIs and other infectious diseases in hospitals. For these reasons, it is important to provide continued training and support for EVS workers.
Below is a list of tips for helping EVS staff adhere to appropriate healthcare and hospital cleaning procedures.
First and foremost, environmental services and cleaning staff should always wear appropriate personal protective equipment. This includes goggles, face masks, gloves, and even protective gowns when appropriate.
Since HAIs are easily communicable and some healthcare-associated pathogens can survive on surfaces for extensive amounts of time, even up to 30 months according to the CDC, personal protective equipment is necessary.
Not only does wearing PPE help to keep EVS staff safe, but it can also help eliminate the further spread of infection. PPE should always be taken off carefully and disposed of or laundered appropriately before moving throughout a facility. This can mean wrapping PPE trash bags and immediately disposing of them in a designated receptacle, or properly wrapping PPE in laundry bags and following laundering guidelines for contaminated items.
Each situation presents unique circumstances and procedures so having a trained leadership role on staff at all times is essential for keeping staff and patients safe.
One practice that plays a vital role in cleaning healthcare facilities is the order in which a room or series of rooms are cleaned. This practice may not be commonplace for janitorial workers in general, but it is a necessary step when cleaning healthcare facilities.
A common mistake, according to research, is cleaning the dirtiest places first and moving to the cleanest parts of a room or facility last. In fact, for healthcare facilities, starting with the cleanest parts of a room or facility and ending with the dirtiest areas is crucial to stopping the spread of infection.
According to the CDC, additional steps include cleaning in a methodical path, for example, left to right or clockwise through a room so that areas are not missed, and if there are multiple beds in in a space it is important to clean each bed area following the same path.
It is also important to clean from top to bottom and to clean bathrooms and flooring last. These practices are designed to lessen the possibility of the spread of HAIs or other pathogens.
Image source: CDC Website
To stop the spread of HAIs and pathogens all surfaces need to be cleaned and disinfected.
EVS staff need a thorough understanding of what chemicals can be used on differing types of surfaces, and the safety of chemical make-up in the cleaning solution, and they will need to be aware of whether dwell times for cleaning agents are realistic—based on the frequency of use of room.
Plus, while cleaning agents are important for cleaning surfaces, disinfectants are necessary for killing pathogens. So, choosing the right disinfectant is important to determine ahead of time.
The EPA has a list of approved disinfectants based on use on their website for reference.
High touch point surfaces are places or items most frequently touched by the hands of patients and staff and can be the cause of cross-contamination. These surfaces need extra attention throughout an entire medical facility.
These can be both hard and soft surfaces. For example, hard surfaces that have high touch points are door handles, light switches, bed rails, toilets, sinks, nurse call buttons, and surgical tools.
Soft surface examples are items like bed linens, hospital gowns, bed curtains, gloves, and face coverings.
These areas and items require more frequent cleaning. Hard surfaces need to be wiped and disinfected at a minimum once a day, but for communal areas like entryways or hallways, multiple times a day is ideal.
For soft surface items, knowing the proper procedures for removing and either disposing or washing is necessary to stop the spread of HAIs and pathogens to any other part of the facility.
The Minnesota Hospital Association has an extensive list of high-touch surfaces and a checklist available online for reference.
Just as important as cleaning agents, are the tools used to do the cleaning. The CDC recommends using microfiber cloths for both wiping and dust mopping due to the level of absorbency of the material.
However, they do caution that some cleaning agents are too strong for the cloth and microfiber needs to be laundered separately from other types of cloth—so researching what cleaning agents will be used alongside the cloths is an important step.
When microfiber cloths cannot be used disposable cleaning wipes are an acceptable alternative, just make sure to check the disinfection level. Also, be sure to read manufacturing guidelines for proper storage and always keep wipes fully saturated and containers closed.
Providing your team with durable and reliable floor-cleaning equipment is also important. ICE Cobotics provides autonomous cleaning equipment powered by lithium-ion batteries. Not only do these batteries require zero maintenance (which is safer for your team), but they also provide longer run times.
On top of that, ICE Cobotics floor cleaning machines come with i-Synergy fleet management software. This can be a helpful tool for managers because it allows them to track the use of the equipment from remote locations on any device.
Managers can track start and stop times, machine operators, and total square footage cleaned. They can even compare this data across sites and help cleaning team members determine more efficient cleaning paths and practices.
Air purification is also a concern in healthcare facilities—as we saw with COVID-19. Hospital ventilation systems should be set up to help stop the spread of pathogens through air filtration systems. If not, adding air purifiers with HEPA filters can help reduce the risk of cross-contamination through airways.
HEPA filters or high-efficiency particulate air filters are designed to catch microscopic particles like bacteria, mold spores, and dirt floating in air, and can be an asset in helping to slow cross-contamination.
ICE Cobotics floor cleaning experts are standing by to help you and your healthcare facility. Contact us with any questions.