Consider what you are doing from day to day. Are you flying by the seat of your pants or running your department based on a plan? Can you look at something on your wall or in your files to see where you have been and where you need to go? In today's ever-changing health care field, we each need to create and manage a strategic plan.

The AHE board is being guided by a strategic plan that was instituted in 2011. Every decision we make at the board level is based on this strategic plan. A copy of the plan is available on the AHE website. For 2012, we are still working on "Shaping Professional Practice, Developing and Promoting the Profession, and Fostering Connections and Alliances."

How are we doing this? If you were at the national conference in Florida last September, you heard two announcements that will make a significant impact on the ES professional practice, assist in developing the profession and foster connections and alliances.

Kimberly-Clark's inception of "The Heart of Healthcare" program will greatly enhance our profession. I sincerely hope you keep your eyes out for what is coming forth in this important initiative. There will be some good opportunities for recognition for you as the ES leader and for your staff who do the hands-on work day in and day out in our health care institutions.

Also announced is the much-anticipated alliance with the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology for fostering teamwork with the infection control staff within your facilities through the "Clean Spaces, Healthy Patients" initiative. Much-needed educational materials and resources will be available to you free as an AHE member. These valuable materials will provide guidance and best practices in fostering relationships with infection control preventionists and creating clean and safe health care environments.

Additionally, we are working on creating more and stronger AHE chapters across the country and there are several states working on becoming official chapters of AHE. We are excited about these developments and look forward to the opportunity to expand into other areas, including long-term care facilities, continuing care retirement communities, ambulatory surgery centers and various other health care entities.

Finally, we are working with our industry partners to help support the organization and keep costs down for our members. There are many experts among our industry partners who are assisting AHE and we look forward to developing and strengthening these collaborations as well. Without our industry partners, we could not do many of things we have been able to do, nor could we continue to keep costs down for our annual conference.

We have an exciting year ahead of us. I'm looking forward to our joint efforts in keeping our health care facilities — whether small or large — safe for patients, residents, visitors and staff. n

This month's column was written by Kent L. Miller, CHESP, 2012 board president of the Association for the Healthcare Environment.

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".