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Infection Control & Patient Safety

The Importance of Environmental Services

Published October 7, 2013 10:43 AM by Barbara Smith
The week of Sept. 8 was designated to recognize health care environmental services workers (EVS). Regardless of your work setting, the patients notice the cleanliness of their rooms and the facility.  And of course, we nurses often hype on the job that is done or not done by the environmental care workers.  

We should not underestimate the valuable role of these support workers to improving patient safety.  There is growing evidence that the environment can be a vector for transmission of pathogens and in my next blog I'll mention some new technology for cleaning and disinfection.

Right now, I'd like to focus on how the patient perceives the housekeeper's job.

The environment is reflected in question 8 of the in the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Survey (or Hospital CAHPS®). (www.hcahpsonline.org/surveyinstrument.aspx)

According to Hospital Compare, the current national benchmark is that 73% of patients felt that their room and bathroom were always clean. Because of the importance of room cleanliness, many facilities are implementing programs and practices that help emphasize the work of the EVS department - visual cues like a tent card with the EVS staff's name on the over bed table or a liner on the clean toilet. Staff members are being coached on checking with the patient if there's anything else the EVS team member can do.

On this note I had a funny incident when visiting my father in-law in the hospital. The   housekeeper assured him several times that she had cleaned the room, the bathroom and the floors. She asked repeatedly, "Do you need anything else?"  Not realizing why she was so persistent in telling what she had accomplished, my father- in-law later asked me, "Did she want a tip?"

So let's hope cleanliness of our facilities speak for themselves - you can check your hospital's scores at the Hospital Compare site. www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare

posted by Barbara Smith


Judy - I think that's terrific. it really demonstrates teamwork to  the patient.  I bet most patients really appreciate the information and more importantly the interaction with your staff. Give yourself credit for a great intervention!


Barbara Smith October 17, 2013 8:40 PM

Our department is also involved in patient and visitor education concerning infection prevention. We explain why we are using PPE's and how we are cleaning. We also have handouts for people who have questions on what to use and how to use when they return home.

Judy Shannon, EVS - Director EVS, Lead-Deadwood Regional October 11, 2013 12:32 PM
Deadwood SD

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About this Blog

    Occupation: Infection Control Professionals
    Setting: Welch Allyn; St. Luke’s Hospital (Smith)
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