Today's post looks at the team in the trenches, the boots on the ground, the hands-on technicians: Environmental Services.
Those responsible for the daily cleaning and sanitizing of hospital spaces are known as environmental services. Rather than simply "housekeeping," this team is responsible for controlling the environment in which vulnerable patients are healing. They are responsible for not only cleaning of surfaces, but also managing linens, cleaning air systems, keeping cleaning records, and even helping in evacuations. Their cleaning regiments are divided into three categories.
These are the items that are cleaned daily, regardless of activity. These include high-touch items such as door knobs, sink tops, and support rails (such as in hallways).
When there is a spill or medical incident that requires immediate clean-up, environmental services provides experts trained for that particular need. This team will know the proper cleansers to use, the items in the area that will need to be replaced, and will perform the necessary tests of the environment to confirm completion.
After a patient is discharged from a room or unit, environmental services performs the most rigorous cleaning protocols. These include cleaning low-touch surfaces such as floors, ceilings, and shelves.
Together, the infection control and environmental services staff work together to maintain cleanliness and reduce infection. They work under challenging conditions and often don't get the thanks they deserve. While we know there is improvement to be made, let's take a moment and recognize their hard work.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in February 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.