The Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE) recently won a gold Omni award in education for its Certified Surgical Cleaning Technician (CSCT) program launched last year.

Sandra Rials, M.S., director of education at AHE, says the program was created to train technicians who work in surgical areas to the specific needs of this critical environment.

“We wanted to develop a program that would build competencies as well as ensure a highly skilled surgical cleaning team,” Rials explains. “Everyone who works on the surgical team has certification in their area, such as the nurses and doctors. We want the surgical cleaning technicians to be able to validate their competencies to work in that area, too.”

The CSCT is a train-the-trainer program that covers five core domains. The infection prevention domain teaches evidence-based procedures to prevent transmission of pathogens. The second domain ensures participants can perform surgical environment cleaning and disinfection properly. The course also teaches problem solving to help participants apply critical thinking. Communicating effectively with the care team to manage expectations is the fourth domain. The impacts and outcomes domain teaches how to analyze the impact of daily decisions and choose actions that lead to desired outcomes.

The program uses a variety of media, activities, real-world scenarios and examples to engage participants.

AHE has held four train-the-trainer sessions since creating the program and has designated 150 trainers across the country to take the education and resources back to their hospital teams for training and certification. Certification is done via an online assessment administered by AHE. The sessions have attracted environmental services (ES) leaders and clinicians.

“We have ES managers and directors attending our programs, and, in addition to end-of-day cleaning, 70 percent of them have responsibility for turnover cleaning as well,” Rials says. “We also have nurses and those working in perioperative areas attending.”

Each session held so far has been sold out, and AHE is scheduled to hold at least two more this year. Ecolab has signed on as the program’s sponsor, and AHE expects to have a total of 230 designated trainers by the end of 2018. ThedaCare in Wisconsin was one of the first health systems to reach out to AHE before the program launched to have 10 of their leaders designated. Leaders at CaroMont Health in North Carolina also signed up to receive the trainer designation and were the first to begin certifying their technicians. Rials says the field’s positive response to the program validates its importance.

“The operating room is one of the most important and critical areas in a hospital,” she says. “It contributes so greatly to revenue and high-quality, life-saving care. It’s such a high-stakes environment, and its complexity really demands a highly skilled team and increasing technical skills from all members, including surgical cleaning technicians.”—