AHE is the organization of choice for professionals responsible for caring for the patient and resident care environment across all care settings, including hospitals, long-term care, continuing care retirement communities and ambulatory care.

Not only does AHE represent, define and advance more than 2,000 professionals who are working to ensure quality outcomes and healthy communities, but it is about fostering connections.

I attended my first ASHES (now AHE) conference in 2009 in Reno, Nev. I can still remember feeling overwhelmed at the number of people at the new member/first-time attendee orientation and welcome reception, all of whom seemed to know each other.

As I stood there, hesitant to introduce myself to others, long-time member Allen Rudd introduced himself and started a conversation. He then introduced me to others. That one introduction — that first connection — showed me that AHE was a special organization.

I had been to plenty of other conferences and trade shows in the past and my impression of the conference world was that people generally moved around the conference in groups from their facility or company and talked to people they already knew.

My experience at this first AHE conference was very different from what I had experienced elsewhere and I’ve come to realize that it wasn’t just my experience that was different; it is AHE that is different.

AHE is about connecting people and offers many ways for you to get connected: sharing ideas through the AHE email ListServ, LinkedIn discussion group or MyAHE bulletin boards; meeting fellow members by taking one of the best-in-class online education courses free to members or participating in one of the various AHE committees; or meeting other members face-to-face at a regional chapter meeting or at the annual conference.

By becoming connected with the AHE network, you immediately gain access to a vast membership base, each with knowledge and expertise to share. Trying to engage and celebrate your team on a shrinking budget? There is a member with whom to share ideas. Need a dashboard to better track your linen program? There is a member with a spreadsheet to send to you. Having problems with hand sanitizer staining or damaging your floor finish? There is a member who has had the same problem and has a list of alternative products to recommend.

By becoming connected, you’ll also make friendships. For me, it started when Allen Rudd walked across the room to say "Hello."

Hank Carbone is the marketing manager of facility segments for Ecolab, St. Paul, Minn., and AHE 2012–14 industry liaison.

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.

Practice Guidance for Healthcare Environmental Cleaning, second edition. This manual provides evidence-based research, guidance and recommended practices that should be considered for inclusion in health care ES departments. Because each health care facility has its own needs, this resource has been designed to enhance an existing program.

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.