Even before the emergence of COVID, healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) were a leading cause of illnesses and deaths in the U.S. The National Institute of Health said the best defense is hand hygiene, antimicrobial stewardship, and environmental cleaning and disinfecting.
Now with COVID to worry about, cleaning and disinfecting ambulatory care and healthcare facilities take on an even more important role. Commercial janitorial services, cleaning, and disinfection can be an important weapon in the fight against COVID if technicians follow the right procedures.
If you are thinking about using a commercial janitorial service, they need to be experienced, trained, and equipped with the right tools. They also need to follow your recommended guidelines and best practices from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Guidelines for Cleaning and Disinfecting
Cleaning and disinfecting in a healthcare facility or ambulatory care center is a unique challenge. The CDC recommends facilities have formal policies for cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces. Commercial janitorial services should be fully trained and conform to the policies and procedures to ensure a safe and healthy environment.
Here are some of the other guidelines they provide for ambulatory care and healthcare facilities for cleaning, disinfecting, and dealing with COVID concerns.
The first step is cleaning. Routine cleaning removes dirt, grime, dust, and other organic materials, as well as many of the microorganisms from surfaces. Healthcare cleaning professional also know they should follow these best practices:
- Use Industrial-grade vacuums equipped with HEPA filters
- Clean mops and cloths after every use, and allow them to dry fully
- Mops should use two-bucket setups to keep wastewater separated from cleaning solutions
- In patient rooms or near patient areas, detergents should be replaced regularly, such as hourly or after every third room.
- Large-surface cleaning methods should be avoided to reduce the dispersal of dust or pathogens in patient-care areas
At all times, cleaning technicians need to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and be trained on its appropriate use.
Disinfection kills microbes and eliminates virtually all known pathogens. Surfaces should be disinfected with a special emphasis on frequently-touched surfaces, such as railings, doorknobs, and countertops. Any patient treatment areas should also get special attention.
Only hospital-grade, EPA-registered disinfectants should be used. For neutralizing SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the CDC recommends using disinfectants on the EPA’s List-N registry. When using disinfectants, it is important to follow product directions carefully, including leaving surfaces wet for long enough to be effective.
It is essential to use the proper chemicals when cleaning and disinfecting healthcare facilities. Here is an example of how important that is: When 18 employees in a hospital operating room suddenly developed respiratory issues, an investigation determined the chemicals in the cleaning and disinfecting products were the culprit.
Healthcare facilities should designate medical waste for specific handling and disposal, including such items as blood, bodily fluids, specimens, lab waste, culture and microorganisms, and medical supplies.
Commercial janitorial services should be trained to recognize medical waste. If required to handle or dispose of it, they need to be trained on proper procedures to keep everyone safe.
Training and Experience
Anyone cleaning and disinfecting should also be trained in workplace safety and infection control. This includes:
- OSHA, EPA, CDC, and ISSA guidelines
- Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) and Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Healthcare (AAAHC) regulatory standards
- Bloodborne Pathogens and Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) Disinfection procedures
- Risks of working in healthcare facilities and the proper way to use PPE
- State, local, and industry regulations and best practices
Protection of patients, staff, and visitors is paramount. You cannot afford to trust the cleaning and disinfection to someone who is learning on the job. Require any commercial janitorial service or commercial cleaning company you work with to staff your facility only with fully trained and experienced professional technicians.
The CDC also recommends routine monitoring to ensure cleaning and disinfection meet facility standards. Checklists should be filled out fully and turned in daily (or more frequently) for review.
Commercial Janitorial Services for Ambulatory Care and Healthcare Facilities
OpenWorks’ elite network of service providers offers multiple levels of service as part of its TotalWorksTM complete cleaning and disinfection system for healthcare facilities.
Many facilities also choose Continuous Care from OpenWorks. Continuous Care uses an antimicrobial surface protectant applied after surfaces have been cleaned and disinfected. It creates an electrostatic bond that adheres to surfaces for continuous protection. It can inhibit the growth of bacteria and microorganisms such as COVID-19 for up to 90 days.
OpenWorks supplies extraordinary commercial janitorial services for healthcare cleaning and disinfection. With more than 35 years of experience, OpenWorks is committed to providing the most effective and innovative processes, highly trained professional cleaners using the latest cleaning technology and practices, and the best service in the industry.
Contact OpenWorks to get an estimate for cleaning, disinfection, and infection control services in your ambulatory or healthcare facility.