FacilityCare Magazine

March/April 2012

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COMMENTARY ON HEALTHCARE REGULATIONS AND RESOURCES OF INTEREST Infection Preventionists and Environmental Services Join Forces New learning tool allows for IP and EVS to work together and protect patients T By Brad Ferris he cleanliness of any healthcare environment is important for infection prevention and control and patient well-being. Infection preventionists (IP) and environ- mental services (EVS) professionals, along with other healthcare professionals, play an important role in quality improvement and in reducing infection-related risks, but in doing so need practical strategies to endorse processes to improve patient out- comes and operational efficiencies. Hospitals must develop and execute clean- ing and disinfecting protocols, foster a sense of collaboration between clinical and nonclinical staff, and offer renewable edu- cational programs and resources in order to properly address infection prevention in the healthcare environment. Ruth Carrico, PhD, RN, CIC, clinical advi- sor to AHE, and associate professor at the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences, Louisville, Ky., believes that healthcare staff and infec- tion preventionists need to work harder to introduce protocols that give environmental service staff members the opportunity to do the right thing. To strengthen the relationship between infection prevention and environ- mental services, APIC and AHE, through an unrestricted educational grant from Clorox Healthcare, collaborated to create a joint edu- cational campaign, Clean Spaces, Healthy Patients. The campaign, which began with a survey of 2,000 healthcare professionals, incorporates educational resources, training materials and other solutions to help IP and EVS professionals combat the spread of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and work together to protect patients. Cleaning and Disinfection According to AHE practice guidance, daily cleaning and disinfecting of an occu- MARCH/APRIL 2012 pied patient room with attention to high- touch surfaces such as bedrails, knobs and call buttons will take approximately 25-30 minutes per room. A terminal/discharge cleaning will take longer – 40-45 minutes and up to 60 minutes, depending on room size, number of horizontal and high-touch surfaces, and number of tasks to be per- formed in an efficacious manner. "As the government and accrediting bodies increase scrutiny in this area, rigor- ous environmental cleaning becomes even more important," said Bill Rutala, PhD, MPH, CIC, clinical advisor to APIC and director of hospital epidemiology, Occupational Health & Safety Program, University of North Carolina Health Care, Chapel Hill, N.C. "There are well-estab- lished guidelines for proper cleaning and disinfection, and making this information available to professionals and frontline staff is vital." More than half (51 percent) of the 2,000- plus AHE/APIC survey respondents (79 percent of whom work in hospitals) found it difficult to locate useful resources about proper cleaning and disinfection. About six in 10 respondents believed educational resources on cleaning, disinfection and infection prevention and control should be directed to hospital executives as well as to physicians. Expanding Collaboration While nearly nine in 10 survey respon- dents believed that EVS team members are treated with respect (85 percent), more than half (54 percent) still believed other staff could be better educated about their role in cleaning. "These survey results indicate that we can make improvements to ensure that the environment in which care is rendered helps to combat infections," said Carrico. "Strengthening collaboration between infection prevention and environmental services staff will advance this goal and contribute to reducing infections and improving patient outcomes." This sentiment is alive and well at Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington, N.J., where Kathy Roye-Horn, RN, CIC, director of infection prevention, describes the environmental services staff as "safety stewards" and works closely with Marita Nash, MBA, CHESP, director of environ- mental services and linen, to develop facili- ty-wide programs showcasing the impor- tance of infection preventionists and envi- ronmental services professionals working collaboratively. In their 17 years together, Nash and Roye-Horn have implemented joint clinical and EVS meetings to success- fully quell outbreaks, incentivized rewards programs to boost inclusion and developed staffing plans to promote relationship building, ultimately cultivating an environ- ment of collaboration and leading to a reduction of clusters and improved patient safety. Resources So what can be done? Continuing educa- tion and developing new companion resources is vital to the bridging the gap between infection preventionists and envi- ronmental services professionals. The Clean Spaces, Healthy Patients program, in collaboration with APIC and AHE, is led by a multidisciplinary panel of clinical advisors and delivers these tools for free online. F Brad Ferris is a senior group manager, public relations for Clorox Professional Products Company. For more informa- tion about Clean Spaces, Healthy Patients visit, www.apic.org/CleanSpaces. facilitycare.com FACILITYCARE | 15 ...AND RESOURCES

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