Staff In Busy Lobby Area Of Modern Hospital

During COVID-19, many hospitals temporarily stopped performing elective surgeries, and patients went to non-acute, ambulatory facilities to receive care. Metropolitan DC-based MedStar Health has over two million ambulatory visits and surgeries a year across 300 buildings. During the pandemic, MedStar saw its number of urgent care visits and outpatient-based ambulatory surgery cases skyrocket by over 200 percent and 40 percent, respectively, while its number of emergency room visits decreased by 18 percent. 

Unlike acute care hospitals, these buildings do not have patient and isolation rooms, or intensive care units (ICU), so cleaning protocols had to be quickly adjusted.

Pre-pandemic, clinicians in ambulatory settings wiped down tables after a patient exam. But now, each room needed to be thoroughly cleaned by a cleaning professional between every patient. Common areas, triage and waiting rooms also needed to be constantly cleaned. These factors combined to create a significant safety challenge. 

MedStar relied on its environmental services provider, Crothall Healthcare, to meet the demand for increased cleaning and to achieve hospital-grade cleaning in ambulatory locations.

Through an enhanced cleaning program, Crothall and MedStar kept ambulatory facilities open to continue caring for thousands of patients by:

1. Standardizing Acute Care and Ambulatory Environmental Services: By standardizing environmental services across all ambulatory locations with one outsourced partner, MedStar reduces variability and ensures consistent service and cleanliness standards.

2. Securing the supply chain: Despite huge demand and a strained supply chain, the partnership ensured access to PPE and critical supplies for all facilities, acute and ambulatory.

3. Increasing cleaning frequency: The equivalent of 20 new full-time day housekeepers were hired to meet the need for around-the-clock cleaning capabilities. 

4. Adding more visible safety measures: In addition to a high-visibility around-the-clock cleaning presence, more than 500 hand sanitizer stations were installed throughout MedStar’s 120 buildings, helping prevent infection and increasing awareness among patients and confidence among caregivers that they were in a clean and safe facility.

In addition to meeting the increased demand for cleaning, MedStar was able to improve the patient experience during this scary time through its focus on and standardization of environmental services across its outpatient settings, unlocking best practices that could be transferred to the acute care environment.