Keeping your hospital clean for patients is an absolute necessity. Hospital Acquired Infections are not only dangerous to immunocompromised patients but can also lead to lost revenue and damaged reputations for the facility as a whole.
Patient safety is not a category that falls onto the shoulders of one person or even one department. It is essential that people like facility managers and infection control nurses can work closely together to ensure that protocols are in place, and best practices are being observed.
Following are a few of the best ways for a hospital to facilitate this type of collaboration.
A breakdown in communication can be a major flaw in any infection control process. It is vital that people from the facilities team, including managers, engineers, and environmental services personnel, regularly communication with infection control staff. But effective communication is easier said than done, particularly if this type of collaboration is new.
Clear communication between facility managers and infection control personnel is the best way to set standards for a facility. Whether this communication takes the shape of regular meetings, conference calls, or online collaboration, it is important that everyone be on the same page about your infection control goals. This way you can ensure that every member of the infection control team is working diligently towards the same goals and taking the right steps to get there. Further, it is important to be consistent about communicating progress towards these goals so that every individual and team leader can assess the strengths of their process and find room for improvements.
Communication can go a long way towards collaboration, but it is easier to maintain when the relationships between different professionals are strong. Building relationships between facilities personnel and infection control professionals not only ensures that lines of communication are open, but it builds trust. Infection control nurses should be able to trust that facility personnel who are doing above ceiling work, for example, are doing so with the proper containment procedures in place. This type of trust is easier to gain and maintain when the infection control team personally knows the facilities personnel. Meetings can go a long way towards building these relationships, as can team building time away from the hospital when possible.
No matter how much teams trust one another and communicate well, monitoring is still an integral part of any infection control plan. Indeed, regular testing can further foster trust between personnel when test results are good. Isolation rooms should be regularly tested for airflow and possible contamination. Rooms that are less regulated should still be tested on a regular basis - whether that is monthly or quarterly - to ensure that the infection control measures in place have not been compromised.
Infection control nurses and facilities managers are on the same team: Team Patient Safety. In a hospital, where cleanliness is paramount, the left hand should always know what the right hand is doing (and the last time it was washed). By fostering closer relationships and better communication between these disparate groups, hospitals can flourish, and HAIs can be reduced.