New ways to keep KGH spic and span

News / General
By Peter Jeffrey

Clean, green and carpet free. Those are just a few of the outcomes outlined in KGH's five-year strategy – and so far, so good. The carpet removal and energy renewal projects are well underway. And now, some new initiatives to keep KGH clean and shiny are getting some traction.

“Cleaning more than one million square feet of space at KGH is an enormous and neverending job,” says Jim Jeroy, Director of Environmental Services. “Do we have improvements to make? Absolutely and that's exactly what we're committed to on an ongoing basis.”

The environmental services team has benefitted from some added resources and a recent evaluation of how and what is being cleaned. This included a review of best practices, two independent, third-party audits and patient and family feedback. The result is several improvements and new protocols that break all hospital cleaning into three categories: patient care, offices/administration and public spaces. Jeroy's 200 full and part-time staff use a targeted approach for the specific needs of each area.

Patient care areas
The largest of these is obviously the patient care areas and includes inpatient units, outpatient clinic spaces, the emergency department, operating rooms and diagnostic and lab areas. In addition to daily cleanings and garbage disposal, these areas are also on a regular rotation for cleaning of what are called core areas – nursing stations, medication, dictation and team rooms.

The inpatient units now have a full-time position dedicated to evening units/discharges. This requires rooms be cleaned and turned back over to the unit within one-and-a-half hours.

“We're responsible for patient flow as much as the care teams are,” says Jeroy. “About 60 per cent of our 100 daily units/discharges happen on evenings so having a dedicated person on units/discharges helps keep things moving as they should.”

A new weekend position has also been added to look after the removal of linens and waste and the cleaning of patient rooms in areas that have the highest volumes.

Discharges are also the focus of a brand new program that has two specially-trained team members and the environmental services assistant assigned to the floor cleaning to a new standard. While KGH already cleans to best practices outlined by the Provincial Infectious Disease Advisory Committee (PIDAC), the new Westech standards go above and beyond those. Westech is a B.C.-based business that does nothing but cleaning audits. Jeroy says its standards are the highest in the industry and this new cleaning team is striving to reach them on every single discharge. This work started at the end of October.

“During our first audit we scored 68 per cent so we have some work to do,” says Jeroy.

That work is incredibly detailed. Jeroy says this team has a unique toolkit that includes a toothbrush. “We are going to get into all the nooks and crannies to make sure we are as clean as we can possibly be.”

Office and administration areas
For many years, some staff have complained that support areas haven't received much attention and Jeroy agrees. Offices make up less than 10 per cent of the overall hospital footprint which is why a greater emphasis was placed on patient care areas instead of areas where there is little traffic. But that's changing under a new office cleaning procedure developed by one of Jeroy's frontline cleaners.

Firstly, office cleaning is being moved to days where ever possible. This will help in many ways. Staff won't waste time fiddling with keys to open locked doors and turning lights off and on. But the biggest pay off, says Jeroy is that the cleaners can form a relationship with the staff in the area to find out what needs doing. All office areas will now be cleaned, including dusting and vacuuming, every month.

Public areas
Jeroy calls this cleaning protocol the first 10 minutes. It's aptly named because people make an immediate assessment of KGH within their first few minutes on site. Often, says Jeroy, that finding is not a positive one.

“We want to change the first impression of people when they enter KGH,” he says. “Certainly the redeveloped main lobby and new King Street lobby are helping with that because of the new finishes and flooring but we want to go beyond that.”

This work, which began in early November, sees the King Street and main Kidd-Davies entrances cleaned up to 10 times in a 24-hour period. That includes floor, window and washroom cleaning, garbage collection and whatever else might be needed.

While everyone is pleased to see the carpets go, that means there needs to be extra attention paid to keeping the new vinyl floors polished – and free of dangerous spills. So, now there is a dedicated full-time person who cleans all corridors starting in the evenings, five days a week. Before, this was only done two days a week.

Stairwells and elevators are also a new priority for the environmental services team. These areas were previously cleaned weekly but now they are being cleaned three days a week.

Cleaning challenges
While Jeroy recognizes cleaning protocols needed a bit of an overhaul, he emphasizes the strain under which his team, like others, has been working over the last few years. Given the hospital's constant state of construction over the past three years, cleaning has been especially challenging.

“We have renovated 140,000 square feet and added another 170,000 square feet over the past three years and that creates a lot of dust, debris and disruption for our team to handle,” says Jeroy.

“I'm really proud of the way my team has risen to that challenge – and that doesn't even include the frequent floods that Mother Nature has handed us.”

Despite the lengthy list of improvements, Jeroy says he and his team aren't done yet. He and Chief Operating Officer Jim Flett also take tours around the campus and take a good look at what needs doing.

“We walk the entire place from top to bottom and make note of everything that needs improving. Some of the fixes are big and some are small but we then create a plan of how we're going to get them done."