March 16, 2018

National Hygiene Specialist® Excellence Award Recognizes Juan Diaz – Environmental Services Lead, Cohen Children’s Medical Center/Northwell Health®

CHICAGO, March 20, 2018 – Juan Diaz, a lead member of the Environmental Services (ES) team at Cohen Children’s Medical Center (CCMC), New Hyde Park, NY, has been named the 2017 recipient of the national Hygiene Specialist® Excellence award sponsored by UMF Corporation, a developer of high-performance infection-prevention products.

Diaz was nominated for the award by Assistant Director of Environmental Services Vasilios J. Apostolou CHESP, T-CHEST. Cohen Children’s Medical Center, a part of Northwell Health, is the largest provider of healthcare for children in New York. Northwell Health is one of the nation’s largest health systems.

The Hygiene Specialist Excellence award is in its ninth year. It was established by UMF Corporation to acknowledge the invaluable contribution of the unsung, everyday heroes staffing ES departments across the country, according to George Clarke, CEO of UMF Corporation.

“We need to increase awareness of all the unheralded professionals that are so critical in the battle against preventable hospital associated infections (pHAIs),” Clarke said. “Chief among these are Hygiene Specialists like Juan Diaz, who serve as the first line of defense in providing safe environments in hospitals and long-term care facilities.”

Diaz’s job is to lead a team of ES staff in providing a clinically clean, safe environment for patients, visitors and staff by minimizing the dangers posed by the spread of the numerous superbugs that are responsible for pHAIs.

Commenting of his nomination of Diaz, Apostolou said, “This is a timely occasion to be recognizing Juan for his service – he is celebrating his 10th year with us. And every day, he has gone above and beyond, consistently performing at the highest levels in the way he processes an area so that it is clinically clean, which, in turn, instills the confidence of our patients, their families, his co-workers and anyone who interacts with him. Juan embodies the Northwell Health core values: caring, excellence, innovation and integrity.”

As a member of the ES team, Diaz participated in UMF Corporation’s Hygiene Specialist In-Service Training program that includes learning best practices for effective infection prevention, in-service education and effective hygiene management in patient rooms and all other areas of CCMC.

The Hygiene Specialist Award includes a one-week vacation for two to South Beach, Florida.

Signaling Out the Hygiene Specialist: The ‘Secret Weapon’ in Reducing, Preventing HAIs

In a 2016 TEDx Talk, Texas State University clinical microbiologist Rodney E. Rohde, PhD distinguished Hygiene Specialists as among one of the most important, “behind-the-scenes” professions in combating HAIs and superbugs in healthcare systems and the community at large.

“My mission and passion is to overcome” the lack of knowledge of the unheralded professions so critical in the battle against antibiotic resistant superbugs – through communication, awareness and education,” Dr. Rohde told a TEDx audience.

His TEDx talk is not the first time Dr. Rhode has spoken in support of his “everyday heroes.” In a 2014 article, “A Secret Weapon for Preventing HAIs,” he wrote that ES comprises the “first-line-of-defense, specialists whose training has included learning best practices for effective infection prevention, on-going in-service education and effective hygiene management in patient rooms and all other areas of the hospital.”

The HAI Scourge

According to Clarke, though mostly preventable, HAIs like Clostridium difficile (C. diff) and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) can, and do occur in all types of patient and extended care settings. He noted that, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), on any given day, about one in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection.  

Leading health systems like Northwell Health have zero tolerance for HAIs. According to its website, Northwell Health has received recognition at the national level from the National Patient Safety Foundation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office of Healthcare Quality and the Critical Care Societies Collaboration and at the state level from the Health Care Association of New York State (HANYS). “Our goal is to eliminate infections that arise following admission to the hospital,” the hospital says. 

“Enlightened management at facilities like these and CCMC/Northwell Health has recognized the importance of ES as part of an enterprise-wide multimodal intervention plan to combat these infections,” Clarke said. “Clearly, these dedicated individuals are invaluable and deserve recognition.” 

About UMF Corporation 

Innovators and specialists in environmental hygiene, UMF Corporation delivers advanced, patented antimicrobial technology with industry-leading PerfectCLEAN® products, education, training, motivation and support. The company, headquartered in the Chicago area, is the only U.S. company that designs, engineers and manufactures high-performance fibers and accessories to help its customers meet tough new challenges in public health and safety. Visit

About Northwell Health

Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 23 hospitals, more than 650 outpatient facilities and nearly 15,000 affiliated physicians. We care for over two million people annually in the New York metro area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 66,000 employees – 15,000-plus nurses and 4,000 employed doctors, including members of Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research. We're training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit