After returning from September’s successful AHE Exchange 2014 show in Tampa, Fla., I’m reminded of something Winston Churchill said before the British House of Commons on May 2, 1935: “When the situation was manageable, it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure … . Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong — these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.”

Why am I reminded of this saying? Quite simply, those in attendance were reminded time after time of how things are and of the challenges facing the environmental services (ES) professional today.

We heard of the quickly emerging challenges of the Ebola virus and how, with increased vigilance on the part of all health care professionals, we can keep things from getting out of hand. We heard of how, with the implementation of the Three C’s (Communication, Cooperation and Collaboration), the unwillingness to act, the lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel and the destruction of self-preservation through maintenance of the “silo mentality” as well as the endless repetition of history can be avoided.

Speaker after speaker drove home the absolute necessity of communication, cooperation and collaboration if we are to cross the chasm that divides disciplines and encumbers high-quality patient outcomes.

The Exchange 2014 collective message can be summed up in a few words: situations are manageable; we can effect a cure; collaboration within health care professional disciplines will produce effective clear thinking when emergencies arise, and the only way to self-preservation is a multimodal, multidisciplinary approach to meeting challenges head-on with integrity, honesty and trust.

We heard Hudson Garrett Jr., Ph.D., address the need for adoption and implementation of best practices and evidence-based practices for health care-associated infection (HAI) prevention at the bedside in his presentation, “Implementing Recommendations into Practice for Infection Prevention.”

Participants took the opportunity to learn about health care textiles and their importance in mitigating HAIs as well as recruiting and retaining top talent. They heard firsthand from William Rutala, Ph.D., how to select the ideal disinfectant for multiple targeted environmental pathogens, including the Ebola virus.

The general presentations were outstanding and applicable to health care ES professionals.

We must not forget the industry support and investment these companies made to partner with AHE in making Exchange 2014 a success. Without the great support and huge financial investment of our vendors, we would be hard-pressed to bring our annual educational conferences and exhibits to our members.

Finally, I'd like to offer a great big congratulations to all of our award winners. We have a lot of talent, dedication and professionalism in our membership and it was a delight to see the outstanding stars recognized. 

Valuable resources available

AHE represents, defines and advances the professionals responsible for care of the health care environment to ensure high-quality outcomes and healthy communities. Following are a few of the resources that AHE offers.

Recommended Practice Series: Environmental Services Equipment and Supplies. The equipment and supplies covered in this booklet are essential, discrete components of safe, efficient and productive environmental services (ES) operations. For more information, go to

Benchmarks and other Metrics for Effective Linen Management. This webinar looks at metrics such as processing and replacement costs, pounds per adjusted patient day, total cost per pound and labor-distribution cost per pound to help users assess and evaluate the cost-effectiveness of their programs. To access it, log on to

AHE Environmental Sustainability Certificate Program. AHE has launched a new certificate program to acknowledge the ongoing and outstanding environmental and ecological sustainability efforts of ES departments. For more information on the program, go to