Davis photoThe jan/san industry has always interested me, most notably because of its diversity. We deal with a variety of markets: everything from churches, schools and lodging, to health care, property management and manufacturing.

Such an eclectic client base keeps things interesting, but it also presents some unique challenges. Each market has specific cleaning requirements that distributors need to understand.

Over the next several months, we will investigate the hotbutton issues for a number of markets and hopefully gain insight that will help you better understand the idiosyncrasies of each.

Let’s first consider hospitals — a market subsumed under health care.

Walter Juskiewicz, a senior environmental services director for Hospital Housekeeping Services, a Birmingham, Ala.-based contractor that services Brookwood Hospital, is a veteran manager and trainer in the industry. He recently shared some thoughts about priorities and the challenges he faces. Infection control, floor care and first-impression areas top his list.

“What makes hospital housekeeping so different from cleaning in other environments is infection control,” he says. “Our procedures are designed to eliminate harmful pathogens and protect our patients. Cleaning products are carefully chosen — especially the germicides. The infection control practitioners help us determine their efficacy. My first consideration is a healthy, clean environment.”

Image is also a high priority in health care. People expect to see glossy, clean floors in a hospital. Many feel that the floors reflect the cleanliness of the rest of the building.

Juskiewicz takes an aggressive approach to floor care. When his floor techs strip a floor entirely, they apply four coats of a high-solid finish the first night. Juskiewicz calls these the “base coats.” The next night, four additional coats are added; these are the “shine coats.” Finally, on the third night, an additional four coats cover the floor and are referred to as “finish coats.”

Juskiewicz says: “Twelve coats provide sufficient product to withstand the vigor of constant cleaning and very heavy traffic. It gives us a base to scrub and recoat as needed and seriously extends strip cycles. Stripping is something we avoid for as long as possible.”

Hospitals operate 24/7. It is difficult to close some floors to traffic — impossible to close others. “We carefully plan our work and perform it during the slowest times. The E.R. is scrubbed or stripped between 12 and 6 a.m. on Mondays. I.C.U. is handled during holidays when the census is low,” he explains.

Hallways are a challenge as well. The nursing staff needs constant access to patient rooms, so entry areas cannot be completely blocked. Juskiewicz shares a technique he devised that wets only half the floor in a doorway of a patient room over to half the doorway of the adjacent room. This method is slow and requires a high level of skill when blending the finish from one area to the next, but is necessary if the doorway can’t be blocked.

To speed the stripping process, he first scrubs the area to be stripped with a riding scrubber outfitted with black strip pads and lubricated with neutral cleaner. He claims that this technique saves time when the 175-rpm single-disc is brought in to remove the rest of the finish.

First-impression areas receive close scrutiny, as well.

The parking deck, crosswalks, stairwells, sidewalks and lobby area are all meticulously policed and special attention is given to the elevators. “I will not tolerate fingerprints on the panels or dirt in the door tracks.”

These insights are useful to distributors seeking to serve the hospital market. Use them as a springboard to establish a dialogue and eventually a mutually beneficial relationship.

Louie Davis Jr. is a 22-year veteran of the jan/san business, having worked on the manufacturing and distribution sides. He is currently director of sales for Central Paper Co., in Birmingham, Ala.