The PerfectCLEAN Post

The 'Hidden Profession' that Saves Lives in the Battle Against HAIs

One of the most popular LinkedIn stories we've shared was "How the Hospital Cleaning Staff Can Help Save Your Life," a WXXI/Rochester Radio report by Michelle Faust on how four area hospitals worked together to stop healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). We think that article has the most views due to the industry's interest in a working solution to an increasing problem. As part of the effort of the staff in the story, the hospitals “stepped up their [Environmental Services] cleaning procedures," the best way to strengthen the front line.

As one infectious disease specialist said of Environmental Services (ES): “Your role is as important as a nurse and as a doctor because you are capable of preventing infection. You're able to prevent harm. So, before no one really paid attention to Environment Services, but now they're kind of at the same level as everyone else.”

Indeed, there are some who are paying attention, including us at UMF Corporation. We annually sponsor the Hygiene Specialist™ Excellence Award to acknowledge the invaluable contribution of ES - the first line of defense in providing a safe patient environment and reducing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Recently, the American Hospital Association's Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE) announced a partnership with The Ohio State University to launch the first academic certificate program in healthcare environmental services within a hospitality management program in spring 2018. The new program is a first and big step to directly addressing the problem of HAIs industry-wide.

Another champion of ES is Rodney E. Rohde, Ph.D., a clinical microbiologist at Texas State University. At a TEDx Texas State University Conference in 2016, Dr. Rhode said it was his “mission and passion” to overcome the lack of knowledge of the “hidden professions” in the battle against HAIs. In a 2014 article, “A Secret Weapon for Preventing HAIs,” Dr. Rohde wrote that ES comprises the “first-line of defense, specialists whose training has included 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.” 

It has become evident to us at UMF Corporation that the only viable solution to confronting superbugs in U.S. hospitals is an enterprise-wide multimodal intervention program. A program that is not just supported and heralded from the hospital's C-suite but throughout the building all the way to the basement, to promote effective environmental hygiene. And it is within this multimodal scenario that it should become apparent, even the casual observer, that the members of every ES department indeed compose the real first line of defense in providing a safe patient environment and reducing HAIs.

Find more information on how we support the reduction HAIs and help Environment Services in our Literature section.