Admission, treatment, resolution, discharge. These are the primary phases of a hospital stay. Each phase involves a different team of experts who help navigate the forms, the flows, the best treatment, the follow-up, the (dreaded) bill.
In every phase of a hospital stay, many more folks engage in our care, helping our progress behind the scenes, like lab technicians processing samples for quick diagnosis. The most unseen of hospital workers, however, may have the greatest impact on our potential for recovery.
Environmental service (EVS or ES) staff members workers play a vital role in the patient’s hospital experience, as they are responsible for the cleanliness and sanitation of every square foot of a hospital. From ER lobby doors to our operating suites to patient rooms, EVS staff are taking care of the environment that takes care of patients.
Luis is one of the heroes of Good Samaritan Hospital. He’s one of our top 10 Xenex users for 2014, protecting the Mother/Baby unit, ORs, and cath lab every day!
On any given day, an EVS worker might clean the rooms of 20 patients, going from top to bottom through the entire space and ensuring complete cleaning and disinfection of everything we interact with in our rooms. Their department never shuts down, never takes a holiday, and must be staffed around the clock. With studies indicating that the patient room can be a primary source of the pathogens that lead to HAIs, their work is constant and demanding. The scary rooms that housed patients with a virulent pathogens? EVS handles those. Have a patient with norovirus or EV-D68 and worried about taking the virus home to your children? EVS will clean it and later go home to their own family, hoping not to bring the virus with them.
Unbeknownst to many: EVS’s hard work is often the most highly scrutinized. HCAHPS scores of patient satisfaction are based on the patient’s perception of cleanliness. To that end, EVS teams do everything they can to make the patient experience pleasant and clean to impart a feeling of well-being that supports a healthy recovery.
When rises in HAI rates do occur, Infection Preventionists are responsible for investigating the possible causes and implementing correctional strategies such as increased handwashing or greater physician vigilance about antibiotic stewardship. However, EVS teams bear the brunt of the tactical efforts for getting the trend reversed. They are often the final link in the chain of infection prevention, and it is a heavy burden to carry.
This week is International Environmental Services Week, honoring the efforts of the healthcare EVS workers as well as those in other hospitality industries. We’ve been posting a lot about our hospital’s workers on social media, because at Xenex we feel that they had been working to achieve our mission for years before Xenex was developed.
When an EVS team member uses a Xenex Germ-Zapping Robot™ to disinfect a patient area, they are the muscle behind our effort to reduce HAIs. Without their silent, tireless, and heroic efforts, the goal of patient safety would be impossible to reach. This week and every week, we thank these hard working individuals for the contributions they make to the health of every patient.
Rachael Sparks is the Technical Director at Xenex Disinfection Services and was previously a transplant specialist working with hospitals throughout Texas.