I love writing, but admit there are times when I stare my computer screen watching my cursor flash on a blank page waiting and hoping for inspiration to hit. Last month I was in Tampa, FL at AHE's annual conference - Exchange 2014. One of the sessions I was fortunate to attend was "Disney's Approach to Service and Culture" given by Patrick Jordan, a "cast member" (aka employee) at Disney. Part of the descriptor behind the session was, "It starts with extraordinary attention to detail in hiring and training, which ensures Disney on-boards people who fit the culture and consistently do what their roles ask of them.....you will gain insights to help you not only hire the right people, but also develop them into employees who are comfortable in their roles and know their purpose."
Wow. Is this not the struggle all employers face daily regardless of the market they are in?
From a cleaning and disinfection perspective in particular, nothing could be truer. We struggle daily with cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces and shared patient care equipment. Cleaning and disinfection is critical to reduce the risk associated with pathogens, and yet often times we find there are not clear roles and responsibilities as to who does what, when it needs to be done, and how to do it. Inevitably someone is breathing down someone's neck yelling "Just Clean It!" or "Why is it taking so long!"
We know there is strong evidence to demonstrate that daily cleaning and disinfection of surfaces in a patient’s room, such as bed rails, can significantly reduce the transmission of pathogens to healthcare workers' hands. We also know that there is evidence to prove that a room previously occupied by a patient with a multiple drug resistant organism significantly increases the risk of the next patient to acquire an HAI. If we have proof to show that the investment of time for daily cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces and shared patient care equipment can decrease the risk for coming in contact with a pathogen and prevent the transmission of HAIs, why do we struggle so much to do it?
Could the answer be as simple as, "It’s not the magic that makes it work; it’s the way we work that makes it magic.” Perhaps we need a paradigm shift in our thought process. What if we stopped chasing after the silver bullet - that disinfectant that kills everything, that room decontamination device that we use as a fail-safe measure because we do not trust our staff to do the job they are supposed to do the first time? What if instead we focused on ensuring that we are hiring the right people? Where we ensure that the people we have hired are comfortable in their roles, understand what they are expected to do, and know how important their job is and its impact on the health and well-being of the patients, colleagues, and other employees.
What would HAI rates look like in a facility that had 100% compliance in cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces by housekeeping staff? What would the HAI rates look like in a facility that had 100% compliance in cleaning of shared patient care equipment?
Perhaps you'll join me next week on Wednesday November 12th for a webinar hosted by ICT as part of their Science Summit on Emerging Pathogens Disinfection Toward Perfection. The webinar will address potential challenges faced in cleaning and disinfecting of healthcare surfaces and equipment, and strives to outline how these challenges can be overcome using evidence-based practice and thought leadership.
Personally, I think it's the work that makes it magic. The magic of marrying people with products and processes!