“Clean does not necessarily mean microbially clean,” says Rodney Rohde, PhD, director of the Clinical Laboratory Science program at the College of Health Professions of Texas State University and teacher of microbiology at Austin Community College.

In a recent article, Dr. Rohde explains that an essential, but often overlooked, secret weapon to reducing and preventing HAIs (healthcare-associated infections) in hospitals is the environmental services staff. But, he notes that these essential employees often don’t appear on administrators radar until there’s a need for budget cuts.

A 2012 survey by UMF Corp. revealed that “many hospitals have found housekeeping an easy means of budget cutting, leaving housekeepers to simply dump the trash and move on to the next room.” Also that environmental services departments are, on average, short by five to nine full-time employees "despite hospital expansions, expanded services, increased patient admissions and shorter lengths of stay (which creates more room turnover)."

Meanwhile, in the past decade, there have been about 4.5 HAIs for every 100 hospital admissions in the US, with the overall cost to hospitals ranging from $35.7 billion to $45 billion (according to a 2009 report by the Centers for Disease Control). And worldwide, the incidence is about 10.1 percent (according to a 2011 review of the literature by the World Health Organization).

After researching MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) prevalence in environments and diverse populations, Dr. Rohde came to believe in the importance of environmental hygiene – and the importance of environmental services staff – in reducing and preventing HAIs. This is especially true when they are included as a component of a multimodal, collaborative intervention-type solution.

To learn more, click here for the full article.