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Steam Cleaning: Providing Greener, Healthier Environments for Veterans

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The 88-acre campus of the Veterans Administration (VA) healthcare complex in Butler, Pa., is moving forward with renovations, new buildings and cost-effective, health-driven approaches to better serve the nearly 18,000 veterans using the facilities annually – including implementing a Green Environmental Management System (GEMS) that uses steam vapor sanitation as a key intervention.

According to John Brewer, CHESP, Program Manager, Environmental Management, at the VA Butler Healthcare facility: “In testing portable steam vapor sanitation units in our older restrooms and shower areas, we found the technology restored these environments to like-new conditions without the use of chemicals – and did so at substantially lower cost than other methods.”

In addition to periodic deep cleaning of restrooms, the large restroom in the domiciliary - a home-like environment for veterans - is now cleaned daily using steam vapor. “It’s much faster than a mop and a bucket, as well as being healthier,” he added.
Periodic cleaning of the ceramic tile floors and walls in many areas of the campus has also been integrated into the program.

Building 1 - the original 5-story hospital building, built in 1933 and currently housing the outpatient, Community Living Center, administration, behavioral health, dental and other services - is being renovated and expanded with upgrades to HVAC, electrical, plumbing, windows and other systems. As the transition occurs, the environmental services staff has been able to blend the appearance of the old materials with the new surfaces through better and more targeted cleaning methods.

“Since the renovation is ongoing, the challenge is to ‘match’ or aesthetically integrate the older surfaces with the new ones. For example, the old hospital windows and window frames had a heavy film of oxidation and discoloration. We scrubbed these and then ultimately used the steam vapor to remove the remaining film. It was the only process that really worked.”

Encouraged by these results, Brewer is evaluating the disinfecting properties of the Mondo Vap TANCS steam vapor system for discharge- and daily-use in patient areas and on touch points.  “This is a non-chemical intervention that works rapidly without dwell time or leaving surfaces wet,” Brewer noted. “In addition, the absence of chemicals promotes better indoor air quality.”

The Butler PA complex has purchased several steam vapor units, with plans to acquire more. Brewer says the units are ideal for keeping old and new buildings in top condition while meeting the high standards of their Green Environmental Management System (GEMS). “The steam vapor has worked well in our older facilities, and helps keep new facilities - such as the planned new Community Living Center, Domiciliary and 180,000 sq. ft. Hospital - looking new while being a greener, healthier approach.”