It’s not too often that someone uses the word perfection when describing a colleague’s work ethic. But, there aren’t many people like Dorothy Huffman.

Huffman, a lead environmental services technician at Mercy Health Fairfield (Ohio) Hospital, not only takes dedication to her job to the highest level possible with results to match, she does so with a heart of gold, embracing everyone with whom she comes in contact.

Her pursuit of excellence combined with her concern and interest in the patients at Fairfield Hospital have not gone unnoticed. At the recent Association of the Healthcare Environment (AHE) Exchange conference, Huffman received the 2015 Heart of Healthcare Award in recognition of her exceptional effort in environmental services (ES) to make a measurable difference in patient safety, satisfaction and positive outcomes.

The award is presented annually by AHE and Kimberly-Clark Professional. Now in its fourth year, the award honors the work and overall contribution of outstanding ES professionals and recognizes and elevates the role they play in the health care environment.

“Dorothy epitomizes perfection when it comes to representing the environmental services profession,” says Marci Butts, former manager of support services at Fairfield Hospital, where Huffman has worked for 36 years, and now director of support and ancillary services at The Jewish Hospital–Mercy Health, Cincinnati.

“She holds herself and her peers accountable for preventing health care- associated infections. Our hospital has the lowest Clostridium difficile rate in our region and I attribute it not only to our hardwired processes and engaged staff, but also to Dorothy’s watchful eye and high level of accountability,” Butts says.

Her unit is consistently ranked highest for patient experience scores, which reflect both cleanliness and courtesy, making hers the best in a facility that is ranked in the top 88th percentile in the Press Ganey database of health care providers.

Huffman educates her peers, patients and their families on the importance of frequent hand washing, using the appropriate protective apparel and paying particular attention to detail when cleaning high-touch points throughout the room. Her kind manner toward patients makes her even more special.

“Dorothy connects with everyone in our hospital,” says Thomas S. Urban, Mercy Health–North Market president and CEO. “While she is not a clinical caregiver, she unquestionably is a caregiver. She truly cares about other people and their loved ones. She is an integral part of our health care team and models this behavior to others within ES and throughout the hospital.”

“Dorothy exemplifies what health care environmental services is all about: attention to details, follow-up and accountability for the proper care of the health care environment,” says Greg May, CHESP, president, AHE. “Dorothy and environmental services professionals like her demonstrate a crucial role in patient outcomes, safety and satisfaction,” he says.

As the award recipient, Huffman received a complimentary conference registration, $750 award check, a one-year AHE membership and a crystal plaque.

AHE and Kimberly-Clark are working together to provide ES professionals and technicians with the tools for their continued education, training and recognition to help reduce health care-associated infections.