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Infection control with healthy results

September 19, 2010
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A proper cleaning regimen is an important element in every business.

A clean environment is pleasing for both employees and customers and can provide a distinct advantage in an increasingly competitive business climate.

While the value of aesthetic appearance is readily apparent, cleaning for the sake of health should be the primary focus of an effective cleaning program in any environment.

Especially in health care
In no other segment of society is the aforementioned focus more critical than in health care.

While governmental regulatory efforts have been successful in designing and regulating proper programs in medical environments, such as hospitals and long-term care facilities, those same protocols are often less stringently executed in lower-level medical environments, such as clinics, treatment facilities and practitioner’s offices.

While the medical staff practices proper infection control procedures during treatment hours, many facilities rely on janitorial contractors to provide additional services for overall cleaning needs.

Most contractors today lack the specialized knowledge that is required to build and execute a proper infection control and cleaning system to deal with the unseen world.

Disinfectants and uses
Among other things, the basic understanding of disinfectants and their proper use is an extremely critical component in any effective infection control and cleaning program.

The use of a hospital-grade Quaternary disinfectant, which is available in a wide variety of cleaning components, should present the foundation for proper infection control and cleaning in most health care environments.

Workers need to understand what these products do and what they do not.

They must be educated on proper use and dwell time requirements.

They must also understand that there are specific environments where additional chemistry may be required and what those disinfectant capabilities are.

With the proper chemistry in place and the workers’ knowledge intact, the system must contain procedures that provide the elimination of cross-contamination and removal of soils and matter.

The most effective cross-contamination elimination programs utilize a color-coding program, which when properly executed serves to isolate potential risk factors.

Knowledge goes a long way
With a basic workable knowledge of the unseen world, workers can easily understand the need for a system that eliminates the potential of pathogens spreading from one area to another.

Many traditional cleaning processes employed today, while well-intentioned, result in simply spreading around soil and accumulated material present on surfaces.

An effective infection control and cleaning program seeks to remove as much of this soil as possible either down the drain, into a vacuum recovery system or through the use of advanced tools, such as microfiber products which provide increased mechanical removal and retention of this matter.

Worker safety
Lastly, the most critical component is a program that protects the welfare of its workers.

Proper personal protective equipment, safety measures and training must be contained in an effective health care cleaning and infection control program.

Beginning with proper hand-washing procedures and proper blood-borne and airborne pathogen training, each cleaning technician must have a clear understanding of the organization’s complete exposure control program.

While the goal of any safety program is to eliminate potential risk, the workers must also understand what to do should exposure occur.

An effective cleaning program that is based on proper chemistry, the elimination of cross-contamination and effective infection control, as well as proper training for the safety of the cleaning technicians, represents the foundation to provide the proper level of cleaning to all health care facilities, while presenting an aesthetically pleasing environment that is safe for both patients and workers.

Peter J. Sheldon Sr. is vice president of operations for Coverall Cleaning Concepts. Sheldon is also active in several industry organizations, such as Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI), ASHES, International Executive Housekeepers Association, International Franchise Association, Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), and the Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI).

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