For environmental services (ES) leaders, correctly determining the proper staffing level of their departments can be one of the most challenging aspects of their jobs. It’s especially difficult when hospitals want to operate as lean as possible to optimize expense management.
A new book offered by the Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE) of the American Hospital Association intends to minimize some of the complexity of staffing decisions.
The author of the book, Staffing Methodologies and Standards for Healthcare Environmental Services Departments, is Rock Jensen, a senior consultant at Soriant Healthcare.
He is a former longtime hospital facility manager and AHE member who has been involved in education and staffing committees at the personal membership group for which he currently serves as a board member at large.
The book is the result of discussions within AHE about the need for it to develop ES staffing standards. “It’s one of the most requested kinds of information made by AHE members,” Jensen says about the staffing challenge.
The book includes metrics derived from hospital staffing standards currently in place and practiced in the field, as well as direction from industry experts who have spent their careers in ES staffing.
For his research, Jensen surveyed about 75 hospitals of various sizes across the U.S. on the time it took to clean specific rooms and spaces to infection-prevention standards and the size of the rooms. The research revealed at least one surprise.
“Our theory going in was that the time it took to clean a room was directly related to the square footage,” he says. “We found out that this is not always the case.”
Jensen ran the data through a linear regression analysis, which identifies if there are variables that will predict an outcome. “We found out that for some areas of the hospitals, yes, the time it takes to clean a room or space is directly proportional to square footage,” he says.
But he discovered that there were other aspects where the outcome was linearly related, but not directly. In those cases, the outcome was somewhat dependent on square footage, but also on other variables like the age of the staff member or the number of fixtures or items in the room, he says. The variables require formulas to determine the outcome, and are included in a table in the book, Jensen notes.
Another conclusion from the research is that there are some rooms that take almost the same amount of time to clean regardless of the size of the space or type of hospital, he says. Knowing the number of minutes to complete the task is all that is required to establish staffing.
To order the book, ES professionals should go to www.ahe.org.