Environmental services technicians occupy a truly distinct position on the health care team. Although they do not administer care, their attention to detail sets the stage for a clean and safe health care environment. Patti Costello, executive director of the Association for the Healthcare Environment, says that the role of the environmental services department too often is underestimated in its importance to patient care. However, as these five articles illustrate, a high-functioning ES department not only is critical to maintain the daily functions of any health care facility, but also to improve patient outcomes and satisfaction.

Improving operating room cleaning efficiency

Patients exposed on an operating room table are vulnerable to a host of pathogens, which leaves little room for error in terms of cleanliness. In demanding jobs, it’s sometimes best to take it slow, but the ever-rotating nature of health care doesn’t leave that luxury. In this article, researchers go through the findings of their study, in which they break down a Lean, collaborative process to improve operating room throughput without sacrificing cleaning quality.  

Environmental services’ role in patient satisfaction goes beyond cleanliness

The role of an environmental services technician sometimes is viewed in a very narrow sense but, as the author in this article explains, his or her job has great impact throughout the entire health care environment. From the moment patients exit their cars to when they meet with their doctors, they are observing the care and concern put into the facility. Their perceptions can alter their perspectives on the type of care and concern that will be given to their own health, so it’s best to pay attention.

Developing a hospital floor-cleaning program

Rock Jensen, senior consultant at Soriant Healthcare, gives practical advice to help health care organizations form daily, periodic and restorative maintenance procedures for flooring. He provides an overview of processes for vinyl composition tile and vinyl flooring, including pre-cleaning steps and what type of chemicals to use.

Seven aspects of surface selection

The need for properly trained technicians to limit the spread of infection in health care facilities cannot be overstated, and a facility designed with this same goal can greatly aid in this infection-prevention effort. As facilities are being designed, environmental services managers can consult this handy checklist of seven factors to consider when selecting surface materials for health care interiors.

Infection prevention moves toward automation

Ultraviolet and hydrogen peroxide disinfection systems continued to grow in popularity this year, with several studies revealing just how powerful these machines can be against harmful pathogens. This features gives an overview of major players in the world of infection-prevention robots, and what’s new in the field.

Editor's note: This blog is part of an end-of-years series, in which Health Facilities Management's editors review some of the year's top stories. Catch our posts on trends in health care construction, technologydesign and infrastructure