The AHE Annual Conference & Healthcare Marketplace will soon be upon us in Kissimmee, Fla. Each year, I know that I will be signing up for a conference chock-full of timely, unique and, frankly, critical sessions and demonstrations.

While I certainly get a wealth of information from the AHE throughout the year, this is the time and place to bring it all home, and really dig deep into the important issues we face daily. And for networking with your peers and colleagues, it simply does not get any better. Also, I am especially pleased to announce that after a two-year hiatus, the AHE golf tournament is back!

But what particularly drives me to this year's conference is that sessions have been designed specifically for attendees based on feedback from last year's conference.

What we are hearing loudly and clearly is that, in these particularly tough economic times of budget cuts, job eliminations (even at the director level) and facility consolidations, health care facilities are looking for leaders who not only develop and share their vision for their department, but also can think strategically and create a vision for the overall facility. They need leaders who effectively can handle today's tough challenges.

These challenges include:

  • Improving Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores;
  • Driving down health care-associated infection (HAI) rates;
  • Spearheading sustainability initiatives;
  • Having those difficult conversations with members of the C-suite involving staff reductions, and implementing a business risk-mitigation plan to protect your hospital's reputation should a negative situation arise.

This conference will include sessions that not only address these very issues, but also will provide strategies, tactics, and real-world case studies to help you implement best-in-class solutions. It will educate and equip you with the most advanced technology solutions and toolkits, and will provide imperative sessions such as: "HCAHPS Winners' Toolbox: Proven Strategies to Increase Your Scores," "Lean Principles in Healthcare," "Implications of HAI Costs on Environmental Services," "Creating 'Wow' Experiences" and "Management Survival Toolkit: Leadership Practices for Time-Crunched Managers."

I know the total cost of attending can be an issue for many of us. However, continually moving your knowledge and education upward is paramount and there is no greater value and means to achieving that than the annual AHE conference.

We all know the saying, "Rome wasn't built in a day," and the issues we face are not going to be solved overnight. But give us three days and the AHE Annual Conference & Healthcare Marketplace will show you how to build pillars of performance excellence so that you can be that leader for which your facility's C-level professionals are looking.

I very much look forward to seeing you in Florida this September.

This month's column was written by 2011 AHE President Gary L. Dolan, CHESP, director, environmental services, The Village at Penn State,College State, Pa.

AHE insight

Valuable resources

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

  • 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 for environmental services directors and managers, this book can be used as a resource for implementing proper cleaning techniques and procedures.
  • Contracting: Myths & Realities. This publication covers everything from outsourcing to management pitfalls. It includes sample surveys, budgets and task lists that will assist in making the best contracting decisions for a health care facility's environmental services department. AHE re-released this manual to keep environmental services professionals at the top of their game.
  • Glossary of Healthcare Terms for Environmental Services. This convenient reference tool features hundreds of terms and definitions organized alphabetically, both general and specific to environmental services, housekeeping and textile care.

For information on purchasing these and other valuable industry references, select "AHA Store," then "Environmental Services" after clicking here.