As the New Year has rolled in, so have significant changes ahead on the health care landscape. During the challenging times yet to come, we have a responsibility to set a tone of optimism for our staff, our patients and certainly for our sanity.

One source of my inspiration is the amazing accomplishments of the religious women of America. From the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s, they built over 20 percent of the hospitals in the United States. During these times, the American economy was a roller coaster of poverty to prosperity; yet through perseverance and determination, the Sisters were a dominant force in shaping U.S. health care. How did they do it? I asked one of the Sisters of Mercy here at my hospital and her response was, "Have a strong faith, work hard and lead by example." These words of wisdom may appear basic on the surface but they are truly meaningful as we journey through these turbulent and uncharted times.

It is important that staff morale is upbeat, setting a tone to ensure a positive patient experience. To overcome this challenge in environmental services, it takes good, motivated leaders with excellent communication skills. I have no idea who made this statement, but an ASHES member provided this insightful, dead-on response on a recent opinion survey. It fits with what the Sister meant by determination and perseverance: "Get involved in all levels, and I am not speaking only of positions within ASHES... [Managers] must learn to use their voices to address all issues affecting environmental services and the impact it has on patient outcomes—outcomes, not patient care. Treatment of patients is clinical; care is everyone's responsibility, it is the human interaction and recognition of the patient as a person...outcomes are affected by both treatment and care. Although not a clinical discipline, ES has a greater impact on the ability of clinical staff to successfully carry out their duties than thought."

So, together, let's be determined to continue putting forth our best efforts in providing our staff and others on the care delivery team with what they need to be successful in 2010 regardless of the landscape.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not extend my appreciation to our 2008-2009 President Tina Cermignano, who did an outstanding job leading ASHES for two consecutive years. Tina sacrificed endless hours toward the growth and prosperity of ASHES. The fruits of her labor are very much appreciated by all of us.

Call me at 678-843-7081 or e-mail me at anytime!

Fiona Nemetz, CHESP
Director of Environmental Services, Transport, Safety and Parking
Saint Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta

Sidebar - ASHES insight

Valuable resources

ASHES offers valuable educational and career resources to environmental services professionals. They include the following:

  • Online education courses. Start the year off on the right foot and register for one of the ASHES online education courses. They include a Supervisory Course, a Director Course and a Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Professional (CHESP) Study Group. See what each program has to offer at
  • ASHES Recommended Practice Series: Integrated Pest Management (IPM). ASHES offers comprehensive IPM planning and implementation in these guidelines, which have been co-authored by experts from ASHES and Orkin Inc. The publication is available from the American Hospital Association's online store by clicking here.
  • Online jobs resource. Whether you're looking for a completely new job or are ready to take the next step in your career, ASHES will help you find the right opportunity. Visit and click on "CareerLink," the premier electronic recruitment resource for those in the environmental services profession.