Hospitals are places where people who are seriously ill or severely injured go to recover. Unfortunately, some patients wind up becoming infected with another disease while they are there. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), on any given day, one in every 31 hospital patients, or about 687,000 patients a year, contract what’s known as a Healthcare-Associated infection, or HAI.
An HAI is any infection that a patient gets while receiving treatment for a different condition. Many of these infections are hard to treat because they are antibiotic-resistant, so hospitals must be vigilant to prevent the spread of the bacteria, fungi, and viruses that cause HAIs. This requires a special type of cleaning known as Environmental Services.
Hospital Environmental Services vs. Regular Cleaning
Hospital Environmental Services, or EVS, is the term used to refer to specialized cleaning and disinfecting services performed by highly trained technical personnel to prevent the spread of HAIs in hospitals and other medical facilities. EVS techs work alongside doctors, nurses, and other healthcare personnel to create a clean environment for patients while they are being treated. Those in the know call a hospital’s Environmental Services staff its first line of defense against infection.
In order to raise awareness of the importance of Environmental Services, the CDC has posted a graphic novel on its website, explaining how environmental services cleaning differs from the type of service a janitorial staff provides.
For instance, while the janitorial staff is busy cleaning the things you can see — the dirt tracked in on the floors, the spilled drink on the table, and the full trashcans — the EVS techs are concentrating on the contamination you can’t see — the germs that infected people leave on countertops, sinks, light switches, doorknobs, etc.
EVS techs must perform their responsibilities in a certain way to avoid cross-contamination.
Before entering a room, Environmental Services staff are required to sanitize their hands, put on a disposable gown, gloves, a mask, and sometimes goggles. They must clean the rooms from top to bottom to avoid spreading germs to areas they have already cleaned.
It is imperative they use the right cleaning solutions. If not, someone can touch an area that’s presumed to be clean, like a counter or a tabletop, and unknowingly spread germs left on it. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains a detailed list of approved hospital-grade disinfectants on its website.
Sometimes the techs clean occupied rooms and must be sensitive to the patients’ needs. Like any other health care provider, they must follow HIPPAA regulations to safeguard the patients’ privacy. After patients are discharged from the hospital, the EVS techs will be called in to thoroughly clean and disinfect the room to get it ready for the next occupant.
When EVS technicians are finished with a room, they must remove their gloves and mask and dispose of them properly. Then, after sanitizing their hands again, they must don new gloves and masks before cleaning the next room.
Proper medical cleaning requires frequent and consistent communication between healthcare providers and EVS technicians. The Environmental Services team can help spot situations that can potentially be hazardous.
For instance, if a patient has the flu, EVS technicians will make sure there’s a sign on the door warning visitors of the risk of droplets that may carry the influenza virus.
Also, if there’s a leaky faucet in a patient’s bathroom, they will recognize that as a health hazard and call maintenance. The water that leaks from the faucet often pools on the counter near the sink, leaving conditions right for the spread of bacteria.
Hospital Environmental Services staff is also responsible for removing hazardous waste from the facility, including blood, used syringes, and used IVs, all of which must be incinerated as required by regulations.
How COVID is Changing Environmental Services
With the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the general public became more concerned with making sure all their spaces were disinfected and sanitized in order to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. Hospital patients and their families, most of whom had probably never heard the term “EVS” before, were now not only aware of what it was but also how important it is. As the pandemic continues and new strains of COVID develop, other industries are placing more importance on disinfecting and sanitizing their own businesses, adopting some of the procedures used in EVS cleaning.
The Future of Hospital Environmental Services
Environmental Services continues to involve thanks to new technology. Many hospitals began using ultraviolet disinfection technology a few years ago, and now they are using electrostatic sprayers as well. Other hospitals are experimenting with the latest robotic cleaning technology.
The healthcare industry has begun taking Environmental Services into consideration when designing a new hospital or renovating an existing one. If the materials chosen for floors, countertops and other surfaces are easier to disinfect and sanitize, EVS techs can do their jobs more efficiently. This is not only a cost-saving measure, but it also results in a cleaner facility.
With so many stringent requirements involved with EVS cleaning, as well as new technologies to master, some healthcare facilities have started outsourcing their cleaning.
What Enviro-Master Offers
Enviro-Master Services provides healthcare cleaning services for hospitals, surgical centers, and other medical facilities to meet the standards necessary to prevent HAIs.
Our technicians are all trained to perform our electrostatic spraying service. They apply a hospital-grade germicide using a special electrostatic sprayer that gives the germicide a positive charge. This allows the chemicals to adhere to surfaces longer, making sure they have ample time to kill germs. The sprayer also allows the technician to apply the germicide in hard-to-reach areas.
Contact Enviro-Master Today
If you’re interested in finding out more about Enviro-Master and how we can provide Environmental Services for your hospital or healthcare facility, contact us today. We’ll send out a representative to access your needs, and then customize our services to both meet those needs, and to fit your budget without sacrificing the quality of the job.