Cleaning hospital room

In the face of the coronavirus, many facilities are reviewing and renewing their commitment to cleaning and disinfecting practices. Nowhere is this more evident than in healthcare environments where environmental services (EVS) staff is tasked with the ongoing battle against hospital acquired infections.

"In a hospital environment, commonly touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at least once a day," says Bill Fellows, a consultant in Nashville, Tennessee, with more than 54 years of experience in the cleaning business. "With COVID-19, some hospital custodians are cleaning surfaces every hour."

While around-the-clock cleaning may not be feasible for all facilities, EVS staff should focus their efforts on one of the most challenging areas to disinfect: the vicinity in and around the hospital bed, also known as the patient hot zone.

Jessi Moffat is an environmental services director who oversees long-term skilled nursing and assisted living at Shady Lane Inc. in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Her staff is responsible for cleaning and disinfecting all high-touch points in the resident rooms on a regular basis.

"The most important object to clean and disinfect is the bed itself," she says. "This includes providing regular linen changes and disinfecting the mattress and bed frame along with bed controls, remotes, buttons, grab bars and call lights. Surfaces near the bed may include over-the-bed tables with items like television remotes and phones."

Factor in medical equipment and monitoring systems, and it's easy to see why the patient bedside contains multiple points of potential contagion.

"The patient hot zone is the area of most concern in regard to cross-contamination and transfer of infection," says Shari Solomon, president of CleanHealth Environmental LLC, Silver Spring, Maryland. "That's where we have the most opportunity for direct patient contact and also the transfer of infection through droplets in the air or surfaces that they're touching." Despite these risks, studies have shown that only 40 percent of near-patient surfaces are cleaned in accordance with hospital policy — a sign that there is still ample room for improvement.

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Cleaning Hospital Equipment, Bedside Area