It goes almost without saying that if a building or facility is used by any number of people, then it needs to be cleaned.
It also goes without saying that each building or facility needs various levels of clean in order to be considered clean.
For instance, what passes for clean in an office building will not be nearly clean enough for a healthcare facility.
Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are held to a higher standard when it comes to clean, because what is left behind by careless or less than thorough cleaners could be detrimental to the health of patients.
Because of this, cleaners and environmental services professionals are on the front lines of protecting the health of healthcare facility patients and staff alike.
The Heart Of Healthcare Campaign
In order to highlight the hard work of these front-line employees, the Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE), the American Hospital Association (AHA) and Kimberly-Clark formed the Heart of Healthcare Campaign.
The goal of the campaign has been to recognize and elevate the work of environmental services technicians who have a direct impact on patient experience and safety.
The AHE, AHA and Kimberly-Clark aimed to drive awareness of the EVS role in healthcare facilities, crafting a unique program that would have an award at the national level.
The Heart of Healthcare Award was created in order to complement the campaign and recognize an environmental services technician who went above and beyond their traditional job duties.
The intent of the award is to “honor outstanding front-line environmental services technicians who make a difference for patients and residents across all care settings.”
While the express intent of the awards is clear, and the inaugural winner from 2012 exemplified the attention to best practices that was looked for in the nominees, the 2013 winner showed that some workers go beyond their daily duties in a big way.
The Heart Of Healthcare Award
In 2013, the Heart of Healthcare Campaign crowned a new winner: Jean Azor.
In his role at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital and the Cancer Center at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida, Azor is responsible for providing floorcare services and ensuring that patient rooms and high-touch objects are completely disinfected.
Azor was, however, a unique case that put him miles above the other nominees from 2013.
While his commitment to patient safety and experience was exemplary, he took his role in the hospital to a level that was above and beyond that of his job description.
After finishing his duties for the day, Azor came upon a young boy, Renton Bryant, undergoing chemotherapy treatments for his cancer, crying in the hallway.
“Azor befriended a young cancer patient and supported him through months of chemotherapy, providing him comfort and distraction when he was sad or sick.”
Azor ended up giving Renton and his family his phone number and pager; whenever Renton was at the hospital for treatments, Azor would make sure he was available to distract him by talking to him and playing with him.
Renton’s parents couldn’t thank Azor enough, saying their son hadn’t been this happy in a long time; the family sent a letter to the hospital, chronicling their story.
“Jean never hesitates to help out when needed, and is exceptionally detailed and thorough with his cleaning, making him a key player in helping to prevent the spread of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) in our facility,” says Doug Rothermal, director of environmental services at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
“He is also a leader among his peers and takes seriously his role in training new environmental services department team members.”
Along with Azor, the first place awardee, three other deserving nominees were named as honorable mentions:
- Annette Dejesus, housekeeping aide supervisor at James J. Peters VA Medical Center, Bronx, New York
- Tammi Ulrey, environmental service technician at Skiff Medical Center, Newton, Iowa
- Rosemarie Shifflett, environmental services attendant at Fairfield Medical Center, Lancaster, Ohio.
“Our hope is that the accomplishments of those recognized will inspire others to uphold infection prevention practices as top priority, and that the healthcare community will have a deeper understanding, connection and appreciation for the role environmental services play in maintaining patient safety and satisfaction,” says Richard Marriott, healthcare segment leader for Kimberly-Clark Professional.
For Azor, the recognition means more than being praised for his superior cleaning.
“I make a difference,” says Azor. “I don’t just clean the rooms and pick up trash. I make a difference.”