Before making any changes, environmental services (EVS) managers must revisit and rethink the spaces they clean and separate them into clinical and nonclinical environments.

In the clinical space, everything cleaners do must be entirely centered on serving patients and keeping the environment safe for infection prevention and environmental hygiene. Here, the speed in which these spaces are readied for care is also a concern.

Heller explains, “We can have the most sanitary environment possible, but if it isn’t ready at the right time and in the right way to support the care program, it might as well not exist.”

When budgets get tight and boosting efficiencies builds in importance, EVS directors must look to nonclinical environments as places to increase efficiency.

“In these spaces, it’s about keeping the building safe, attractive and comfortable at the lowest possible cost, so you can redirect resources” says Heller.

He recommends looking for ways to keep these areas clean and functional in a more economical way. Take floor care, for example, which can be broken into routine, periodical or restorative cleaning. Are there areas that would not be affected if floor care were reduced?

“A high shine, high appearance floor has no clinical value, but does have a value from a patient satisfaction point of view,” says Heller.

But in offices and support areas, is it necessary to maintain floors as often as one does in clinical areas? 

“Managers need to ask themselves: Do I need to have that high shine on the floors, or do I simply need to make them clean and safe?” Heller asks. After those decisions are made, he says to embrace technology designed to make these tasks more efficient, such as ride-on floor polishers and sweepers or microfiber systems.

“Office cleaning is a frequency you can easily adjust,” adds Green. “In some places, offices are cleaned five days a week, but could you go to cleaning them three or once a week instead?”

What about adding a communal receptacle and asking occupants to dump their own trash, eliminating the need for cleaners to enter each office? Project work might be reduced, as well — maybe floor refinishing can be done biannually instead of quarterly.

“In environmental services, more than 85 percent of the budget is labor,” Heller says. “So utilizing that labor in the smartest, most effective way possible is the most critical thing managers can do. It’s not about nickel-and-diming the cleaning chemicals or the quality of the trash liners. It’s about what you can do to make your labor effective and efficient.”

RONNIE GARRETT is a freelance writer based in Fort Atkinson, Wis.

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