There are two major functions of cleaning. The first is to make a space look nice. As vain as it may seem, appearances are important, especially when it comes to a business. The second function of cleaning is to obviously clean and sterilize. While a surface may look nice and shiny, it may not be properly disinfected.
When it comes to medical cleaning, every square inch must be clean AND disinfected with no exceptions. If the medical facility looks clean, it will give patients peace of mind. But actually keeping your facility clean will protect patients and staff members from the spread of infection. Personal health is an intimate and sometimes sensitive topic. People value their health over everything, so cleaning should be taken seriously. Trust us. Patients will notice and feel telltale signs that a facility isn't being properly maintained.
What Is the Difference Between Commercial Cleaning and Medical Cleaning?
"Clean" is different for every facility, especially in terms of commercial cleaning vs. medical cleaning. Our franchise owners who manage commercial locations like schools, banks and offices deal with dirt, debris, grease and spillages on a daily basis. But at the hospitals we service, our employees encounter bodily fluids, saline and other difficult to clean substances that contain dangerous pathogens that can cause infection or other serious effects to the body. Commercial cleaning deals with individuals that are for the most part in good health. So although you still want to clean to prevent the spread of sickness, regulations and methods may not be as strict as in an intensive care or isolation unit where a patient's immune system is already weakened.
What is Terminal Cleaning?
Terminal cleaning is a cleaning method used in healthcare environments to control and break the chain of infection. Your hospital is meant to be a source of healing, not a breeding ground for hospital-acquired infection (HAI). Every hospital conducts regular assessments to measure effectiveness and patient satisfaction. It is important that the head of hospital housekeeping, also known as environmental services, be in close communication with the hospital's infection control officer. This will ensure everyone is on the same page. Terminal cleaning requires extensive training and knowledge and should be left to professionals who know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting.
What is the Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting?
Many people use these terms interchangeably, but they are far from the same. So, what exactly is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting? Cleaning refers to the removal of dirt and allergens from a surface. Products that clean vs. disinfect are surfactant based. Surfactant is a compound that interacts with water to breakdown and remove soil, a.k.a. anything that makes an object or surface dirty such as dirt, oil, food, etc.
Disinfectants on the other hand are used to destroy bacteria. A fun fact that most people don't know is that disinfectants are actually pesticides. Don't let this scare you. There are a lot of negative associations linked to pesticides, but there are many different types. Disinfectants happen to be one classification that controls germs and microbes such as bacteria and viruses. Both cleaning and disinfecting are required for maintaining a medical facility. Clean first, then disinfect.
Checklist for Touchpoints
To ensure that every inch of an exam room is getting the proper cleaning and disinfecting, it is important to have a checklist that is ready to go and easy to reference. Even the tiniest details need to be accounted for. For example, a quality check performed on 55 rooms at Summit Health Hospital in Pennsylvania uncovered the presence of Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the indicator for the presence of biological residues.
You may be thinking that this is the result of carelessness, but the environmental services team on site used a 175-item checklist as a guide for their terminal room cleaning. So, what could they have possibly missed? The list included dry erase boards used in hospitals for communication, but it didn't include dry erase markers and erasers. Out of the 55 rooms, 39 makers and 52 erasers tested 40 times the threshold for biological residues.
We won't bore you with a 200 item checklist, but the following items must be sterilized using EPA-approved, hospital grade disinfectants:
- Top, front, sides of a bed's headboard, mattress, bed frame, footboards, side rails, and between side rails
- All high-touch areas in the room including tabletops, bedside table top and inner drawer, phone and cradle, armchairs, door and cabinet handles, room sink, handles and faucet, light switches, closet handle, IV pole (grab area), IV pump control, room door nob/plate,
- TV remote
- Nurse call device and cord
This list is in no way comprehensive because every room/medical center is different, but it covers the basics. In addition to cleaning the above items, environmental service cleaning staff should also clean and sanitize the walls, ceilings and room bathrooms. Remember, all patient care equipment that is reusable needs to be sterilized. Any items that are removed from the room must be disinfected before they are returned. In addition to making sure exam rooms are clean and disinfected, you also want to strive for welcoming entrances and waiting rooms, disinfected restrooms, sparkling surfaces and floors and deep cleaned carpets.
Why Should You Outsource Your Medical Cleaning?
There are a few key reasons why you should outsource your medical cleaning:
- Professional cleaning services have qualified EVS directors familiar with government healthcare regulations.
- Cleaning processes and procedures are up-to-date due to ongoing staff education.
- A guaranteed level of cost saving. (PTO, worker’s comp, HR, and the costs of hiring and firing)
- Professional services come with the leading equipment and product quality.
- Your medical facility will remain inspection ready.
Hiring a commercial cleaning service that will clean your facility the right way will help you keep your medical center healthy and get the patient satisfaction scores you want. It will also allow you to narrow your focus on patient care and safety. Cleaning isn't one size fits all. Every medical center is different. Yours requires services that are catered to your exact needs.