Over the past decade, the Environmental Services Department of the Year competition has highlighted outstanding achievements of leading-edge health facilities' environmental services teams in maintaining high levels of performance.

Conducted by the Association for the Healthcare Environment and sponsored by SCA, the program gives national recognition to teams that excel in cleaning, disinfection, sustainability, patient satisfaction, education, training and use of technology in key critical areas. As media partner for the awards, Health Facilities Management is proud to bring you the stories of how Gundersen Health System, La Crosse, Wis., and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, Dover, N.H., achieved exemplary environmental services performance.

Beyond the specific environmental services lessons that can be gleaned from these stories, they also provide a number of broader examples from which hospital operational professionals from all areas can learn.

For example, the Gundersen Health System profile offers instances of patient satisfaction, interdepartmental coordination, strategic scheduling, operational and clinical staff cooperation, and employee safety training that a wide variety of health care professionals can adapt to their own operations. Likewise, the article on Wentworth-Douglass Hospital is replete with examples of employee development, cross-disciplinary training, interdepartmental cooperation, quality and process improvement, and customer service that provide lessons for managers in many operational areas.

With functional silos within hospitals continuing to come down, the commonalities between operational departments and increased connections between operational and clinical professionals will
provide ever-greater opportunities for all stakeholders to benefit from the experiences of previously less-noticed areas of the health care organization.

And, as health care department heads of all types look for ideas beyond their own areas of expertise, the successes profiled in this year's Environmental Services Department of the Year competition may be the inspiration for their next operational improvements.