Nearly 500 attendees traveled to San Antonio, TX, last week for the national Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE) Exchange 2019 conference. No longer just a trade show for “Hospital Housekeepers,” the annual AHE Exchange provides valuable education sessions and presentations from acclaimed speakers on the latest issues affecting this critical component of modern healthcare systems. The 2019 Exchange attendees represented a diverse range facilities and leadership positions, and their concerns indicated that the role of the EVS professional continues to evolve rapidly to meet changing—and ever increasing—demands.
Cleanliness and sanitization are two of the most important environmental factors of any facility that specializes in treating patients. Because these are also the core duties of healthcare EVS technicians, EVS staff have become the frontline against healthcare associated infections (HAIs) infections. However, these professionals rarely receive accolades for their work in this capacity. Much of the time, the credit for success goes to the infection preventionists. IPs are usually tasked with designing and enforcing the protocols to reduce HAI rates. The patient’s environment is always a key component in addressing HAI opportunities—which circles back to EVS and their impact. Instead of being siloed, perhaps EVS and IP should increase their collaborative efforts for optimal patients results?
To test this proposal, Contec Professional recently surveyed members of the infection prevention community about their relationship with environmental services. More than 28% said they completely trust their EVS team in doing their best to prevent HAIs daily. However, a staggering 60% of surveyed IPs admitted they only “somewhat trust” their healthcare colleagues. Due to these results and other misconceptions about the importance of EVS, Contec Professional has partnered with AHE as a 2019 Corporate Champion to help promote an often-overlooked profession.
The tools and textiles developed by Contec Professional are made specifically with the needs of the frontline cleaners in mind. Every product has been carefully considered as to how it will impact this community. Contec also employs several former EVS technicians and managers, people who know all too well how inefficient cleaning tools can negatively affect daily efficiency and long-term results. That is one reason why Contec Professional is continuously creating better tools for EVS professionals—to help improve patient outcomes.
The links between healthcare environments and patient outcomes was the focus for many of the educational sessions at the AHE Exchnge 2019. Presentations relating to floor sanitization and cleaning, environmental cleaning, and the risks involved with laundered textiles were some of the best attended. In one popular session, Doe Kley, RN, CIC, MPH, pointed out that the effectiveness of hand hygiene was limited by an obvious factor: “Our hands are really only as clean as the environment around us.”
In the Solution Center, Mark Wiencek, PhD, asked attendees a tricky question: how can you clean with a dirty mop? His presentation revealed that bioburden can remain on laundered microfiber textiles and making the switch to a single-use disposable mop or wipe can significantly improve surface cleaning. The cost and inefficiency of properly laundering cleaning tools to proper HLAC standards (which involves over 100 steps, according to their protocols), can also be avoided.
One of the most meaningful messages to come out of the AHE Exchange 2019 is the importance of breaking the chain of infection is when it comes to preventing HAIs. It’s evident that EVS technicians play a vital part in helping reduce the occurrence of HAIs—but they can’t do it alone. They need support from medical staff and management, and also recognition for valuable work they do each day. That is just one of the reasons Contec Professional is proud to support AHE and EVS professionals everywhere. Because this calls for a PROFESSIONAL.