The Rock Jensen File
- Administrative director of support services at Yuma Regional Medical Center in Arizona.
- Senior consultant, Vizient Healthcare (formerly Soriant Healthcare), Atlanta.
- Environmental services regional contracted oversight for hospitals throughout Nevada and Arizona.
- AHE Advisory Board president.
- AHE elected board member.
- AHE Education and Knowledge Management Committee co-chair.
- Certification Training for Surgical Cleaning Technicians.
- Bachelor’s degree in sociology and health care administration, University of Utah.
Rock Jensen, CSCT, is serving his first year as the Association for the Health Care Environment (AHE) Advisory Board president. As the administrative director of support services for Yuma Regional Medical Center, Jensen brings a wealth of insight from serving various facilities departments to his newest AHE role. This month, he talks with HFM about AHE’s current and future initiatives, and offers advice to newer professionals.
How has your career experience helped to shape your management and leadership skills?
My career in health care facilities management followed a similar path that so many in the field have taken. I was originally hired at a children’s hospital as the security director. Before long, I was being asked to also take leadership of other support services departments, such as environmental services (EVS), laundry, landscaping and grounds, communications, safety and staff transport to off-site parking. Ultimately, we joined all services together into one organization, and I became a facilities manager for all departments, including maintenance, engineering and plant. All this took place within four or five years. I was fairly new in my career and a bit inexperienced with much of the detailed work required.
I had an experienced mentor who oversaw EVS for the health care system and was willing to sit with me for months and teach me the business. It provided me the essential knowledge required to understand the integration of square footage, patient volumes and productivity associated with staffing departments. Perhaps most importantly, I gained a love and appreciation for the leadership team and EVS staff. I was working side by side with them doing the same job they did. No college experience could have better prepared me for the decades ahead than the time spent at that hospital.
I then took an opportunity with an outsourced management organization and had responsibility for all of their accounts throughout two states, implementing skills and abilities I had learned over a few short years. They ultimately made me responsible for their departments at their hospital accounts in two other states.
At length, I shifted into a consulting role with a national consulting company that specialized in health care support services oversight. The years spent perfecting my knowledge and application of support services management provided dividends as I worked with hospitals around the country. My initial theory was that I would assist departments and hospitals in implementing best practices for their departments, which was often the case. However, on many occasions, there were times where I learned new ways of doing things. I gained a significant amount of insight as I watched several departments performing a best practice, and I would ultimately incorporate that into my own repertoire of skills to use and share with others.
I am now in the last decade of my career. I determined to look for a hospital that would allow me to use the education and skills I had acquired over two-plus decades. The experience in my first hospital quickly repeated, with requests for me to take on multiple hospital departments and processes. However, this time I was ready for what was to come.
When did you join AHE, and in what ways has it contributed to your success?
I got my first taste of AHE around 2002. I didn’t know much about them, but the company I worked for encouraged membership. From the opening session of my first AHE conference, I was blown away by the experience. I attended learning labs in so many categories that were essential. The networking was a great opportunity to be able to share experiences and learn from others. I spent time with AHE learning about the extensive resources they provide their members. Policies and protocols that I had spent decades working on and creating myself were fully available through AHE.
I became a member of an AHE committee. Within a couple of years, I volunteered to be a co-chair of that committee. I also took opportunities to write various articles for Health Facilities Management, provide webinars for AHE and serve as a subject matter expert for them. I felt this was an opportunity in my career where I could give back to the field that had provided so much for me along the way. With time, I applied for board membership with AHE and was accepted.
I have watched and worked with some extremely talented AHE presidents: Mike Bailey, Gary Dolan, Pam Toppel and Brad Winnie. They each had their own unique leadership ability. While I couldn’t mirror any of them specifically, I felt I could borrow something from each. I still have a passion for this field and, accordingly, I ran for and was ultimately elected as AHE Advisory Board president-elect.
What are current initiatives AHE is launching to address EVS trends?
Future growth for AHE includes an electronic handheld tool that will allow EVS teams to have immediate access to every aspect of EVS cleaning, policies and protocols all in their hands and available with the click of an app.
Additionally, AHE just launched the Health Care Environmental Services Staffing Calculator & Workbook Bundle. This online calculator allows EVS leaders to input simple data and receive immediate feedback on their staffing efficiency based upon the AHE staffing surveys from members regarding time spent in cleaning of various hospital areas. This is not a tool that drives extreme efficiency based on non-validated benchmarks. Instead, it is based on AHE standards of cleaning and time measurements from members.
How is AHE helping to ensure quality operations in every health care setting?
As health care expands outside the brick and mortar of traditional health care settings, AHE has developed standards for cleaning and/or disinfecting in these expanded locations. From small clinics to drug store settings and other non-regulated locations, AHE is offering guidance in providing best practices involving infection prevention and disinfection. AHE is also working on its Small and Rural Sustaining Initiative Spreading Quality Improvement project to drive applications for scholarships and training to health care EVS teams in rural areas. So far in 2022 over 198 applications have been received and accepted.
Additionally, AHE is developing programs to influence health care professionals and help decrease infections while improving patient satisfaction across the spectrum. To accomplish this, AHE is collaborating with key government infection prevention organizations and quickly becoming the indispensable thought leader, standard setter and influencer in the creation of health policies across all health care settings.
AHE is also supporting initiatives and advocating for salary and pay levels for EVS professionals that are equivalent to other health care leaders to recognize the critical work they perform.
Any advice for new members or those just stepping into EVS leadership?
Looking back on my own experiences with EVS, I remember how overwhelmed I was with my lack of experience and knowledge of the field, and how much I counted on my mentor to help me navigate through everything I needed to know about EVS leadership.
I would remind our new members and leaders that they are not alone in this process. There are key resources available through AHE that you do not have to develop yourself. They are ready and at your fingertips as an AHE member. There are various training webinars, practice guidance and other publications, as well as certifications and networking that every member, and especially new members, can benefit from to find exactly what they need to be successful in their careers.
The MyAHE member portal allows peers to ask any question they might have about EVS management. It allows any EVS leader to be an expert or part of their hospital leadership.