Your Secret Weapon in War on HAIs

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , October 1, 2012

Swedish Covenant Hospital got the memo. The 320-bed hospital in Chicago was featured in Not Just a Maid Service, an HAI prevention video put out by the Illinois Department of Public Health that stresses the role of cleaning crews. 

Gregg Gonzaga, infection control manager at Swedish Covenant, says Clostridium difficile infection rates have fallen 20% since they instigated a collaborative in mid-2010 that engaged cleaning staff in the fight.

"One thing we initially noticed was that certain departments in the hospital were in silos. For housekeepers it was 'this is my job. I just clean the rooms,'" Gonzaga says. "We wanted the environmental staff to understand that we don't look at them as housemaids. We look at them as an integral part of our infection prevention effort.  We approached them and said 'we know that what you do in the hospital is very important and we want you to be a part of our team.' They understood that."

Swedish Covenant supervisors took the time to explain to staff what C. diff. is, how it is spread, and what it can do to a patient. They made it clear to staff that their jobs could literally be a matter of life or death. They explained why it was necessary to provide a thorough cleaning and to avoid shortcuts.

Supervisors daubed florescent markers on high-touch areas before cleaning and then doubled back when the cleaning crew finishes to make sure rooms were properly disinfected.

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