FROM LEFT: Jim Henry, CHESP, MT-CHEST, T-CSCT, director; Holly Barto, lead; Miriam Galvan, T-CHEST, assistant director; Mary Beth Brown, CSCT, lead; Mitchell Andrews, lead; and Hira Siddiqui, office manager.

Jim Henry, CHESP, MT-CHEST, T-CSCT, director of environmental services (EVS) for Crothall Healthcare, Texas Health Frisco, a hospital in Frisco, Texas, knows there’s strength in numbers — especially improved cleanliness scores. But there’s also power in people — the power that human beings can produce when encouraged to work closely together to enhance the safety, efficiency and operations at a busy medical facility.

By achieving impressive wins on both fronts, he and his EVS team came out on top in the 249 beds or fewer category in this year’s Association for the Health Care Environment’s (AHE’s) EVS Department of the Year Award.

Proof of the hospital’s accomplishments is in the numbers. Between 2020 and 2021, the EVS department:

  • Increased its Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) cleanliness scores from 73.7% to 78.9% (its year-to-date score currently trends at 85.18%).
  • Reduced its linen pounds per adjusted patient day from 12.06 to 10.93 pounds (surpassing its target of 11), saving the hospital $7,243 annually.
  • Decreased room turnaround times from 126 to 69 minutes (45%).

The EVS staff also eagerly embraces the hospital’s credo of providing a “WOW” culture, which stands for “Warm welcome,” “Out of this world experience” and “What could we have done better?”

“We now use our names when interacting with our patients, [their] family members, coworkers, visitors, physicians and volunteers, and greet every guest we encounter throughout the day,” says Henry. “Creating an out-of-this-world experience requires our staff to be trained in reflective listening to pick up on cues that can surprise and exceed a guest’s expectations. And we ask each guest, as they are about to be discharged, how can we improve our services for the next guest? This enables us to learn from their experiences and continually improve our program so we can ‘WOW’ the next guest.”

Jim Henry, CHESP, MT-CHEST, T-CSCT, director, conducts training with the staff on proper personal protective equipment needed for Monkey Pox rooms.

Henry’s team also began issuing to patients “Power of clean” kits that include hand sanitizer, surface wipes, ear plugs, sleep masks and lip balm.

“We also worked hard to reduce the linen pounds per adjusted patient day,” Henry notes. “We adjusted the par levels on each unit to align with the average daily census, began tracking which items are delivered to each unit daily, and initiated regular mitigation with leaders on how they can help manage their linen utilization and consumption.”

Teamwork to the rescue

Improved cross-training was emphasized as well. Now, when an area is short-staffed, EVS workers can help support an oncoming shift in a different department. “We also recognized that maintaining a clean and clutter-free environment requires better teamwork among patient care technicians, nursing staff and EVS techs,” Henry says. “Each month we pull the HCAHPS cleanliness scores; the unit with the greatest improvement over the previous month is celebrated. We bestow a ‘Traveling Trophy’ award filled with top-grade chocolates, a handwritten thank you card, ‘You’re Awesome’ stickers for the winners to wear, and a ‘You Rock!’ engraved stone for the unit manager to give to the technician who had the biggest impact on keeping the rooms clean. 

Hira Siddiqui, office manager, delivers “WOW” flowers to the patients.

“Over the past year, each of our five units has achieved a 100% cleanliness score for at least one month,” Henry adds.

The EVS squad also added new tools to its arsenal. In addition to a handheld minicomputer, lapel communication device and tablet utilized for conducting inspections, staff now employs two ultraviolet (UV) disinfecting robots. They also installed a shoe sanitation station in the intensive care unit to safeguard occupants from harmful bacteria. 

“Furthermore, our senior leadership team of administrators and directors make rounds every weekday to visit every department and give the front-line staff an opportunity to voice any concerns and ask questions,” Henry says. “The staff also report on the department’s key performance indicators to identify any barriers senior leaders can help eliminate. 

“Our EVS department has been successful in educating other staff and leaders on the importance of their role in maintaining a clean and sanitary environment,” Henry continues. “As a result, there’s a greater appreciation for EVS staff and their certifications.”

More accomplishments

Henry is also proud of his staff’s additional efforts in 2021 to reduce bacterial transmission and enhance cleanliness.

Jesse Boney, utility tech, recycles some boxes.

“We work with nursing staff and infection prevention to double-check each discharged patient room using a UV light to validate that high-touch areas were properly disinfected. All isolation rooms and operating rooms receive an added level of disinfection using a UV portable robot,” Henry says. “Every shift huddle is facilitated by my assistant director or me, and these huddle sessions are recorded and emailed to all employees so that everyone in the department receives the same message from senior leadership. And we’re working closely with the infection preventionist to ensure we follow the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for cleaning.”

Noteworthy waste reduction and recycling initiatives have been implemented since last year, too. In rooms infected with C. difficile, bleach wipes were replaced with a hospital-grade disinfectant, and recycled cardboard, aluminum, paper and plastic today comprise 91.2% of the waste stream (up from 85.4% in 2020).

Henry is thrilled that his EVS staff are recognized for their diligent work. “Knowing how many wonderful EVS programs exist, being selected by AHE for this prestigious award is such a tremendous honor,” he says. “The team I am blessed to work with strives to make a special connection with each guest who walks through our doors daily.”