Healthcare environments pose a substantial challenge and threat when it comes to safety and cleanliness. The nature of the services provided in healthcare facilities means following proper cleaning procedures must be more stringent than standard janitorial services.
The following article outlines 10 key tips to ensure you maintain a safe and healthy healthcare environment.
Understand the Threats to Your Facility
Biological, hygiene-related threats to healthcare environments include a variety of bacterial and fungal infections. In some cases, these germs live naturally in certain areas of the human body, but can spread to other areas and cause dangerous infections.
In other cases, the disease-causing organisms occur naturally in the environment such as soil, but can contaminate surfaces and equipment, resulting in infection.
The following is a short list of some of the most dangerous infectious organisms that may be present in your healthcare facility and demand a high standard of cleanliness to prevent outbreaks of infection.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
MRSA is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics. MRSA can cause a variety of potentially fatal infections, including skin infections, pneumonia, and bloodstream infections.
Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE)
VRE is another type of bacteria common in healthcare facilities that is resistant to many antibiotics. Although VRE is normally found in the human digestive tract, it can cause infections in the bloodstream, urinary tract, and surgical wounds when improper hygiene procedures are followed.
Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacterales (CRE)
CRE is a group of bacteria that are resistant to a wide range of antibiotics, including carbapenems, which are some of the most powerful antibiotics available. CRE includes various e. Coli strains, among others.
CRE can cause infections in the bloodstream, lungs, and urinary tract.
This is a bacterium that is often found in hospitals and can cause a variety of infections, including pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and meningitis. Acinetobacter baumannii is often resistant to multiple antibiotics.
Cryptococcus neoformans is a yeast-like fungus. It's usually inhaled and initially causes a lung infection, but can spread to the nervous system and cause meningitis, especially in immunocompromised patients.
Implement a Regular Cleaning Schedule
Consistency is vital when it comes to cleaning healthcare environments. Regular cleaning prevents the accumulation of dust, dirt, and harmful microorganisms.
Develop a comprehensive cleaning schedule that covers all areas, including waiting areas, patient rooms, examination rooms, restrooms, and even less-frequented spaces like storage rooms. This schedule should specify what needs to be cleaned, how often, and the cleaning methods to be used.
Be sure to include the HVAC system within your cleaning protocol. Clean, quality indoor air is an often-overlooked aspect of a healthy healthcare environment. Regularly cleaning air vents and replacing HVAC filters can significantly reduce the spread of airborne pathogens and allergens.
Cleaning staff should use the checklist to meticulously track which areas have been cleaned on each shift. Additionally, a checklist of all areas to be cleaned should accompany the schedule.
Understand High-Touch Surfaces
High-touch surfaces such as door handles, bedrails, light switches, and elevator buttons can serve as reservoirs for harmful pathogens. Rooms that have patients are particularly notorious for harboring bacteria, especially over extended hospital stays. These surfaces need to be cleaned and disinfected frequently, in some cases every hour.
Use Appropriate Cleaning and Disinfecting Agents
Different surfaces and areas within a healthcare environment require various cleaning agents and disinfectants. Using the wrong agent can be ineffective and may even cause damage. For instance, while bleach may be excellent for disinfecting some surfaces, it can be too harsh for certain medical equipment. Use EPA-approved disinfectants when appropriate and follow the manufacturer's instructions for optimal efficacy.
Consider implementing state-of-the-art cleaning methods such as hydrogen peroxide fogging, which is among the most effective disinfecting methods for common healthcare environmental threats.
Implement a Spill Management Protocol
In healthcare settings, spills can involve a range of substances from water to biohazardous materials. Quick and efficient spill management is crucial to prevent accidents and potential spread of pathogens. Staff should be trained to deal with spills quickly, safely, and effectively, using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning products.
Follow Waste Management Guidelines
Proper waste segregation and disposal is a crucial part of maintaining a clean healthcare environment. Regularly clear bins and ensure waste bags are not overflowing. Biological and hazardous waste should be handled carefully according to local regulations and guidelines.
Regular training should be provided to all staff, regardless of their role, about the importance of cleanliness and the role they play in maintaining it. This training should cover hand hygiene, the use of PPE, waste handling, spill management, and the use of cleaning and disinfecting agents.
Patient and Visitor Education
Educating patients and visitors about the importance of cleanliness in healthcare settings can help to maintain a healthy environment. Signages emphasizing hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and the appropriate use of masks can be effective.
Visitors in particular pose a serious threat for bringing in various microorganisms on their hands and clothing. All visitors should clean and sanitize their hands when entering the facility. While visitors are crucial to ensuring patient morale, it’s important they do not become a disease vector.
Regular Inspections and Audits
Regular inspections and audits are essential to ensure that cleaning protocols are being followed. Feedback from these inspections can help improve cleaning procedures, ensuring the highest possible level of cleanliness.
Hiring a Professional Healthcare Facility Cleaning Company
In-house cleaning staff are an important part of any healthcare facility. However, maintaining a full department with all the necessary equipment, training, and state-of-the-art cleaning skills can drastically increase the overhead of a facility.
Hiring a professional cleaning service can be a cost-saving investment that improves the safety of your patients, staff, and visitors.
With over 4 decades in the professional cleaning industry, Pegasus staff are highly trained in maintaining sanitary healthcare environments.