This is part two of a four-part article on infection prevention techniques that prepare facilities for possible pandemic outbreaks.

One of the most important elements of a successful infection control program is in-person communication — not only between EVS managers and infection control, but with front-line workers, as well.

“Staff wants information,” says Smith. “They want to see someone in person discussing the situation. Flyers and websites are great, but nothing replaces personal communication.”

In-person contact with custodial staff can go a long way towards allaying fears and assuring workers that they are safe should a pandemic occur.

Dunbar uses this personal, hands-on approach when training custodians to wear personal protective equipment (PPE).

“The staff see me get into PPE, and that lessens their fear,” she says. “Demonstrating the process and having them watch us go through it really helped them to feel protected and supported. I’m not expecting them to do anything that I’m not going to do.”

When developing procedures for doffing and donning PPE, Dunbar developed step-by-step charts to further simplify the process.

“We have so many people speaking different languages that we had to add pictures to every single step,” she says. “So even if you didn’t speak English, you would know what to do.”

In addition to communicating closely with custodial staff, Smith recommends working side by side with infection control. That way the infection preventionist wont be blindsided when the time comes for EVS to step up its game.

Likewise, Dr. Stephanie Blackwell, medical director for the communicable disease program at Chicago Department of Public Health, encourages a close connection between EVS and infection control.

“A good working relationship will create some sensitivity and awareness of contagious pathogens,” she says. “It’s important to keep in mind that the environment is rarely implicated in disease transmission, except for individuals that are compromised in the hospital, so there are certain infections that EVS workers have to be very cognizant of.”

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Infection Prevention That Fights Pandemics
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Understanding Transmission Of Germs