As hospitals journey through another year of uncertainty and change, it is up to each of us to ensure that our departments are making a difference in the patient experience.

To that end, when was the last time that you entered your facility through the front door? Does your main entrance make a statement about the caliber of care that will follow? It is up to each of us, working with our counterparts in facilities management, to provide a clean, well-maintained and inviting atmosphere.

As the journey continues through the facility to the customers' destination, it is imperative to communicate a message of infection prevention. Well-stocked bathrooms with dispensers encourage hand washing, an important consideration when addressing the H1N1 pandemic. Are hand sanitizers available in strategic areas to ensure that hands are being frequently cleansed? Environmental services has a key role in supporting infection prevention initiatives and minimizing cross contamination.

The individual's destination is usually a procedural area or patient room. The team maintaining the patient's destination communicates that a positive experience will follow. Environmental services professionals need to be trained not only to disinfect, clean, empty trash and mop, but also to report any facility issues such as leaking faucets or burned out bulbs. Also, team members need to be trained in communicating with customers to ensure their needs are met.

What is the barometer for success in the patient experience? It is compiled from a multitude of resources, including patient satisfaction surveys, quality assurance inspections, bed turn times, work order turnaround, transport times and customer feedback. Study this information, share it with your team and set goals for 2010.

To achieve success that delivers the ultimate patient experience, we need to be knowledgeable on the latest products, services, regulatory changes and innovations. ASHES is the source for this information and I suggest that you visit  regularly to get the updates. Additionally, if you need support or answers to technical questions, the online bulletin board is a great way to open the doors to a wealth of information. Finally, I want to make sure that you mark your calendars for the annual conference in Nashville, Tenn., on Sept. 26-30.

ASHES offers a plethora of educational and networking opportunities to help you improve your patients' experience.

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 New Year off on the right foot and register for one of the ASHES online education courses starting in January. 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, co-authored by experts from ASHES and Orkin Inc. It 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 ready to take the next step in your career, ASHES will help you find the opportunity that's right for you. Visit and click on "CareerLink," the premier electronic recruitment resource for those in the environmental services profession.