An environmental services (EVS) department’s staffing level is a key determinant of its ability to excel in high-risk settings. Some staffing level variables include:

  • Cleanable square footage. Gross square footage refers to all measurable space contained within the walls and under the roof of any individual facility. Cleanable square footage only counts the actual space that the EVS staff clean. Consequently, it excludes locations such as electrical or maintenance closets, inner space between walls, courtyards or patios (unless this area is cleaned by the EVS department), and parking garages. The engineering or facilities department is typically a good place to acquire this information, as well as to obtain building and floor plans.
  • Frequency of cleaning. This specifically relates to the number of times an identified location or square footage will be cleaned in a 24-hour period, such as a main lobby or public restroom that is cleaned multiple times throughout the day.
  • Lock-in areas. This refers to departments or locations to which a housekeeper is assigned for a shift or length of time regardless of square footage or frequency. An example might be in the emergency department, where it’s required to have someone available for cleaning functions no matter the size of the department or volume of patients.
  • Space classification. This is the identification of space according to its use. Each classification requires a different level of cleaning and time commitment. A terminal cleaning of a surgical suite will require more concentrated cleaning than an office area. Each classification will be assigned its own productivity standard as staffing assignments are developed. ■

Sidebar information excerpted from the Association for the Health Care Environment’s book, Staffing Methodologies and Standards for Healthcare Environmental Services Departments.