There may not be an ‘I’ in team but there is an ‘E,’ and with team cleaning implemented, that ‘E’ stands for efficiency.

More than 95 percent of hospitals rely on traditional zone cleaning, where one housekeeper is assigned to a set number of rooms and that individual performs all the necessary tasks involved in cleaning those rooms. Team cleaning, on the other hand, breaks up these tasks and assigns three-member teams to perform custodial tasks.

Mercy Hospital’s EVS teams incorporate a starter, a sanitizer and a closer. The starters empty trash receptacles and perform dusting and wiping, the sanitizers clean the restrooms and sanitize high-touch surfaces, and the closers dust mop and wash floors. Each team is assigned to approximately 60 rooms, and each cleaner carries his or her tools on a cart set up for a specific role.

“With team cleaning we were able to trim approximately 15 FTEs,” says Green. “And, cleaners have time at the end of the day to do their discharges because they’ve gotten through their dailies quickly and efficiently.”

There’s a caveat to their success, however. According to Green, team cleaning does not work unless employees follow a script. Patients, he explains, are used to seeing one cleaner, and now they’re seeing three.

“If you’re a patient and you see a guy pull your trash and leave, what will your perception be?” Green asks. “The staff needs to communicate with the patients.”

Cleaners need to say things like, “I’m So-and-So, and I’m here to pull your trash. In 30 minutes, my coworker will come in to clean your restroom,” and so on. The last cleaner finishes by asking patients if there is anything else he or she can do for them.

Even when cuts occur, this level of customer service will go a long way.
RONNIE GARRETT is a freelance writer based in Fort Atkinson, Wis.

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