Training is key to the success, and here BSCs need to invest in training workers on the principles of infection prevention, the concepts of disease/microorganism transmission, and how to apply this knowledge to cleaning procedures. Heller explains when nurses go to school they are taught point-of-care assessment skills, which are to understand each unique scenario and evaluate it appropriately, then apply the correct protocols and practices based on those assessments.

“BSCs need to think about point-of-clean assessment skills, which teach workers to analyze each situation and apply the correct standards and practices to them,” he says. “In other words, we need housekeepers to be thinking and not just doing, and that requires more education.”

Heller says at minimum all BSCs in healthcare should be members of APIC, the association for professionals in infection control and epidemiology. This organization can help them remain on top of current regulations and best practices.

John Scherberger, an industry consultant specializing in helping BSCs clean in the healthcare space, recommends that supervisory personnel obtain certifications from the Association of Health Care Cleaning Professionals, the Association for Health Care Environment and ISSA.

“By certifying managers through these organizations,” Scherberger says, “managers can put in place training that ensures workers know what they are doing and how to clean properly and safely. It also gives them a leg up on the competition to say my supervisors and managers have these certifications.”


Environmental Hygiene Is A Patient Safety Issue

Everyone from management down to frontline employees requires education and certification in the basic principals of infection control.

“In a foodservice company, it’s expected that all levels of the organization are trained in food safety,” Heller says. “The same holds true for environmental services.”

Heller adds that he’s not aware of certifications for frontline workers, but indicates BSCs have an opportunity to differentiate themselves by developing such certifications in-house then testing their employees on their knowledge.

“The hygiene of a facility is a patient safety issue,” he says. “When it comes to environmental hygiene we cannot allow employees to go off and perform critical functions without actually testing whether or not they are competent.”

Elite Systems employs an infection prevention nurse to do bloodborne pathogen training, HAZMAT education, and PPE training.

“She has created an online training tool so that employees can go in periodically for refresher training,” Holderman says. “That was one of the first things we put in place to make sure our employees were compliant. It’s not just about training employees to clean. It’s also about regulatory training.”

Advanced training also benefits employees if BSCs move them up the pay scale as they add to their education, says Scherberger.

“The more training they get, the more valuable they are, and the more they should be paid,” he says.

The healthcare industry can be a good market for the building service contractor willing to go the distance.

“If a BSC is stuck in a low-cost cleaning service world, they are missing the boat,” says Heller. “That might be acceptable for other industries, but in healthcare that’s just not going to cut it.”

Ronnie Garrett is a freelance writer based in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. She is a frequent contributor to Contracting Profits.  

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Documenting Hospital Cleaning and Hygiene Outcomes