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Reflections from an IEHA-Certified Family

A circle of arms intertwined

My father, Ron Parker, never planned for two of his three children to follow in his footsteps. He also never expected to work as long as he did, but at age 77 he found himself cleaning floors at a hospital in Reno, NV. He became a floor and carpet specialist and trained the next generation of floor care specialists until his retirement at age 82.

Fifty years ago, Ron passed the examination to become a Certified Executive Housekeeper (CEH) through the National Executive Housekeepers Association (NEHA), the predecessor organization to IEHA, a division of ISSA. This instilled in him the importance of training and education that would stick with him throughout his career. He applied his new knowledge toward eliminating offensive odors at convalescent and assisted living facilities.

Daughter and Son Follow Suit

Ron’s daughter and my sister, Sharon Morgan, also achieved an IEHA certification. Although she wasn’t responsible for hands-on cleaning supervision, the principles she learned through the IEHA course proved invaluable in her property management role.

I started cleaning floors at age 10 and ran a contract cleaning company for 15 years before moving into the janitorial supply business. I currently work for a national provider of integrated facility maintenance solutions. My focus is on education and I strive to learn new techniques to combat health care-associated infections (HAIs) that I can share with environmental services (EVS) directors.

Sharing the Wealth of Knowledge

My appreciation of training and the need to educate EVS managers led me to form the Hospital Alliance Association (HospAA), a nonprofit training organization. HospAA has reached across professional boundaries to bring EVS workers, infection control practitioners, nurses, purchasers, and suppliers together to provide effective strategies to reduce HAIs so that patients have a healthy, healing environment. Additionally, it equips cleaning staff with improved innovations and products to protect them in their work environment.

Throughout our careers, my family has been fortunate to witness many important improvements within the cleaning industry. My father especially appreciated vacuum redesigns. He remarked that early backpack vacuums required someone the size of a linebacker to use.

I was happy to have a part in bringing the first microfiber flat mops into the United States from Sweden, moving floor care away from the string mop. Staff readily accepted the new flat mop because it was less strenuous to use and didn’t require wringing out a heavy mop head. Environmentalists liked the new system because it reduced water and chemical usage. Administrators marveled that the system reduced both employee injuries from pains and strains and the amount of time it took their staff to clean floors. Patient rooms and surgery suites were cleaner, resulting in improved patient care.

Cleaning improvements like these continue to be introduced at the annual HospAA meeting. My family is proud to have had a part in these cleaning innovations and credits the knowledge we’ve gained from the IEHA in helping us train others.

Rick Parker

IEHA Board Member

Rick Parker is founder of the Hospital Alliance Association, a nonprofit that promotes strategies to improve cleaning and efficiencies in health care facilities. He is on the board of directors for IEHA, a division of ISSA.

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