Posted by: knightbird | June 29, 2010

Cleaning for Health at Chugachmiut

Cleaning and disinfecting is a critical function for any janitorial services at our health clinics. Chugachmiut did not have any formal standards for cleaning, and previously dedicated 1.5 FTE’s to this function at our Seward clinic. Interestingly enough, as we began our lean improvements to patient care, we began to realize that having excellent health care included having a sanitized facility. We began to investigate the possibility of outsourcing our janitorial services, and started discussions with Dependable Janitors in Seward. Owner Ron was intrigued by our desire to use lean management principles to design our cleaning program and did a lot of research for lean cleaning.

The results have been phenomenal. We have reduced our cleaning costs and achieved a WOW factor in results. Prior employees returning to visit have stated WOW when looking at the clinic (mind you it was just remodeled about 3 years go so it looks good to start with). Even existing employees are impressed with the change. What is it that produces such a startling result?

First of all, we have reduced our inventory of cleaning supplies. We use a mixing system that utilizes the recommended amount of cleaner for a set volume of water. Believe it or not, the manufacturers do recommend a certain amount of cleaning fluid for a set amount of water. I know I sometimes think that if the recommended amount is good, then a little bit more must be better. Wrong. Excess cleaning fluid can and does harm our environment so using the recommended amount puts a little less of it into our wastewater.

Then, we have separate cleaning protocols for different areas of the clinic. We use different colors of microfiber rags and mops for different areas. Bathrooms use specified colors, which are never used for other parts of the clinic. They are laundered separately to ensure that there is no cross contamination of rags or mops. Different janitors clean different areas. We have a specified standard work to the cleaning. It is sequenced to be most efficient in terms of movement and motion. We purchased a HEPA backpack vacuum to provide mobility and an ability to reach every area of the clinic.

Every so often we conduct a “deep clean” intended to reach areas that are not cleaned daily.  We also removed other potential sources for harboring bacteria and viruses. Cloth chairs are not easily disinfected and were removed from the clinic. The children’s toy box was removed because children’s toys are notorious harbingers of infection. When focused on a future state of a clinic where all potential sources of infection are removed, it’s amazing what your team will think of.

Our next step is to deploy our cleaning for health program to our Village Clinics. We will be using the training principles of Job Instruction, from the Training Within Industry program, to help create a job breakdown instruction sheet and teach our janitors how to achieve clinic cleanliness that protects our patient from clinic generated infection.

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