An essential base of knowledge must be obtained and sustained to enable good decision-making during crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Environmental services (EVS) professionals should maintain membership in the Association for the Health Care Environment (AHE) to stay up to date on rapidly changing data and evidence-based processes.
EVS professionals should study and frequently review Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and Association of periOperative Registered Nurses guidelines as well as medical journals and podcasts to learn and establish high standards, and make informed judgments for daily operations.
EVS professionals also should consult with their infection prevention practitioners, infectious disease physicians, business partners and others to maintain continuity with best practices and compliance with policies.
Perhaps the most significant action is to invest in front-line staff. Provide education and training (e.g., Certified Health Care Environmental Services Technician and Certified Surgical Cleaning Technician) programs to ensure staff is prepared with the knowledge of not only learning correct usage of products and performing processes but understanding and articulating the “why.”
Learning how to determine what to do in a situation based on data and evidence empowers the front-line staff to engage with their care team partners and communicate with confidence. This also facilitates continuity of service, enabling the EVS technician to perform knowing that they have all the tools and information to keep everybody safe in the health care environment.
As the field transitions to an expected endemic, the core of EVS strategies will remain on infection prevention for current opportunistic and emerging pathogens.
The importance of maintaining a finger on the pulse of challenges now and in the future cannot be overstated. It also is imperative for EVS leaders to maintain alignment with organizational goals and missions.
The value of EVS contributions continues to rise and is expected to remain at the forefront of C-suite interest as the focus on facility cleanliness and safety becomes a path for success.