Because "cleanliness is next to godliness," as the saying goes, environmental services (ES) departments need to strengthen their responsibilities outside the box of patient and resident rooms and concentrate on other areas that can impact perceptions of cleanliness.

For example, nurses' stations can be a problem. ES staff need to work on cleaning countertops and beneath the counters in more detail. This can be challenging as clinical staff members often are sitting there. Another problem is that ES staff hesitate to move the cables and wires underneath the counters.

Additionally, elevator tracks are a high-profile area and can create elevator function issues if not cleaned on a regular schedule. Some elevator contractors will have this function in their contract, but not all do. The upper light covers, which often are filled with debris and dust, also are an issue.

Of course, walls are a constant problem to keep clean. We have seen several health care institutions where this does not occur. At our facility, we implemented a new cleaning process using microfiber mops with great success for quick and efficient cleaning of walls. This process is done in all common hallways, patient and resident room hallways, and various other service hallways on a scheduled basis.

When walking the hospital every day, debris such as soda cans and bottles, candy wrappers, straw wrappers and other items are visible on hallway floors and stairwells. In fact, we often go around to the same areas a few hours later and will find debris again on the floor surfaces. Another fact: Well within an hour after a floor-care staff member mops the hallways, there is already debris on the floors.

At our facility, we have created an awareness campaign called, "The Pick-Up Club." When my supervisors or I see someone pick up debris, we give them a button that says they are a member of the Pick-Up Club. This helps create an awareness that cleanliness is everyone's responsibility, which is actually part of the tagline on my email.

Windows and glass also can be a problem to keep clean. There are often hand and finger prints all over the glass doors because of the many visitors that come in and out of the entrance. If they are not maintained, there can be a perception that the rest of the health care facility is not clean.

Finally, ES departments should clean public restrooms at least six times per day. We have posters in each of our public restrooms that provide a phone number for individuals to call if they find any cleaning issues.

Cleanliness goes beyond the patient room. Implementing these techniques can directly impact patient and visitor satisfaction.

By Kent L. Miller, MHL, CHESP, president of AHE and director of environmental services, Jackson Hospital & Clinic, Montgomery, Ala.


Valuable resources available

AHE offers a comprehensive educational and professional development program that engages all levels of health care experience.

• Webinar — The EVS Leader: Surprising Truths about What the C-Suite Requires. This 60-minute program will explore strategies articulated by a panel of top health care executives and officers, outlining how environmental services managers can position themselves and their departments to get an audience with executive leadership and demonstrate their value. Panelists will provide a glimpse into successful C-suite thinking and explain why environmental services must begin to contribute to the overall health care conversation. The event, which is $99 for AHE members and $139 for nonmembers, will be on Oct. 10 at 11 a.m. CST. For more, log on to

Virtual Conference — EXCHANGE 2012. To learn about this unique event, contact Carrie Witt, AHE's marketing and communications coordinator, at

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