We are living in times of great uncertainty, particularly in health care. How are we adjusting? Do we feel confident that we can communicate our needs or desires to the C-suite?

As we examine our field and our base of experiences, skill levels and expertise, we find that we have a lot to say. That's great because there are many opportunities to communicate effectively with the C-suite. We need to believe that we can converse intelligently and effectively with anyone in the C-suite.

To do this, we need to know the leadership within our organizations. We must get to know their pet peeves and what drives them. In larger organizations, this can be difficult. But if we develop a rapport with our executive teams, we'll find them to be valuable assets to have in any initiative we decide to pursue.

When we see our CEOs, we need to talk confidently about what we are doing well and where we may need help. I meet with my organization's chief nursing officer every other week to discuss nursing and environmental services issues. This opens the door to explore potential initiatives.

We need to exude self-confidence and assurance when meeting with hospital leaders. We are professionals and need to look and act the part. This does not necessarily mean that each of us needs to wear a suit and tie. It means that we need to act, speak and dress as health care professionals.

We also need to share our expertise. We know our field and should be able to communicate this clearly. We need to develop an elevator pitch — a 30-second nugget to relay what we do. If we are not comfortable with this, we can use resources available to us as AHE members, including the bulletin board.

Finally, each of us needs to have something important to say. Let's bring our well-thought, valid ideas to the forefront. We can be the change agents within our own organizations.

It is only through our connections with the C-suite that we can display our value to our organizations. We need to talk about what we are planning to do to improve HCAHPS scores and discuss what we think may be reasons that some patient satisfaction scores are low. We also must look beyond our departments to other areas to see how we can impact the organization.

We need to let the C-suite know that, as experts in our field, we can help to improve the financial viability of our facilities. Working together, we can create better health care organizations.

This month's column was written by Kent L. Miller, CHESP, director of environmental services at Jackson Hospital and Clinic, Montgomery, Ala., and AHE president.

AHE insight

Valuable resources

AHE offers a variety of educational materials. They include the following valuable references:

  • Practice Guidance for Healthcare Environmental Cleaning. This publication, prepared by AHE and edited by infection control professionals, contains requirements for environmental cleaning in health care facilities. Targeted to environmental services managers, this book can be used as a resource for implementing cleaning procedures.
  • Contracting: Myths & Realities. This publication covers everything from outsourcing to management pitfalls. It includes sample surveys, budgets and task lists to assist environmental services departments in making the best contracting decisions.
  • Glossary of Healthcare Terms for Environmental Services. This tool features hundreds of terms and definitions organized alphabetically, both general and specific to environmental services.
    AHE Recommended Practice Series: Integrated Pest Management, 2nd Edition. This is a how-to guide to implementing and maintaining an effective integrated pest management program.

Click here for information on purchasing these and other valuable industry references, select "AHA Store," then "Environmental Services".