Hospitals, like everyone else, have taken a hit during the economic downturn. The good news? Here are a few easy ways to save on housekeeping operational costs without sacrificing patient care:
1. Use fewer trash liners. A small but important practice to change is placing extra trash can liners at the bottom of bins. Though in other types of facilities this can serve as a time-saving practice for the janitorial crew, in a hospital, trash liners will be considered contaminated and have to be thrown away if any liquid leaks onto them. Since trash liners are a petroleum-based product, they become more expensive when the cost of oil rises so the fewer you use the better.
2. Pick the right paper products. The key to lowering the cost of your paper products is to choose the right dispensing system and the right quality paper. Unbleached, post-consumer recycled rolls are generally the most cost-effective for hands. Toilet tissue on the other hand is a totally different story. The question to ask is “How comfortable do you want your customers to be?”. Softer paper requires more virgin pulp and less recycled product in it’s production resulting in higher costs.
3. Use the right amount of cleaning chemicals. Dilution control machines allow you to accurately measure cleaning chemicals. Some cleaning chemicals can be very expensive so controlling your chemical usage can have a major impact on your bottom line. Using the right amount of chemical can also help to ensure that you are effectively killing pathogens, which of course is essential in a hospital setting. If your disinfectant is overly diluted, pathogens will remain active and have the chance to build up an immunity. Contrary to what you might expect, if the chemical is too strong, it may end up simply “washing” over the pathogens without actually killing them. Chemical products are engineered to work at certain parts per million. Dilution control equipment can help cleaning agents clean more effectively and control your bottom line.
4. Avoid unnecessary linen laundering. The key here is to establish accurate par levels on each floor. A good way to estimate this is to set aside the same number of linen items as beds in the unit along with an additional 10 to 15 percent of that number as extra. Deliver these in the morning and then check in every few hours to restock par levels as needed. The danger with having too much linen on a floor is that it can easily become contaminated, thus needing to be re-laundered before it is even used. Don’t have more linen than is necessary out on the floor and educate nursing staff on the importance of only taking what is actually needed or requested by the patient.
5. Reduce your solid waste. Waste removal fees are assessed based on volume (usually around $60 per ton) so it is important to reduce your solid waste as much as possible. A few easy steps to take...
- Establish a recycling program for cardboard, paper, metals, blue wrap, etc.
- Reduce your document destruction costs by only shredding paper with confidential information. The rest can go to recycling.
- Use a baler to pull out as much cardboard as possible. Selling these bales back to your waste hauler can earn you credits which can offset other waste removal costs.
6. Maximize each “pull”. Every time waste is removed you pay a “pull charge” (generally about $150) so be sure you are getting the most bang for your buck. Monitor your waste stream for a few weeks and pay attention to how full containers are when they are pulled. Ideally, you want to fill your containers as full as possible without letting your trash sit for too long. For example, if you generate about 8 tons per week, you might want to consider having your waste pulled once a week.
7. Reduce your biohazardous waste. A final way to reduce your waste removal expenses is to choose the most effective way of dealing with biohazards. Using an on-site treatment system such as an autoclave steam sterilization process can help you avoid hefty removal fees. After sending biohazardous waste through this type of unit, it can be thrown out along with the rest of your solid waste. This may not be a good option, however, where space is very limited as units tend to require a 10 by 12 foot space minimum. Two sites to waste management systems to check out: San-I-Pak and Sanitec.
8. Educate nursing and other hospital staff on your efforts. Your EVS department may be doing a great job at reducing waste and inefficiency, but if other hospital staff aren’t made aware, they may be unintentionally thwarting your efforts. Communicate with directors and nursing staff to raise awareness about your cost-saving objectives and what they can do to help.
Hopefully these tips have been helpful. Have more ideas? We’d love to hear them below.