Comprehensive strategies to ensure infection control and cleanliness

By Rochelle Quandt / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today
November 7, 2017

In healthcare facilities across the U.S., facility managers are tasked with a variety of responsibilities that cumulatively contribute to the overall appearance, safety and cleanliness of a building. To achieve this task, a comprehensive plan is often implemented. 

A key component to any healthcare facility cleaning plan involves identifying product solutions that mitigate the risk of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). When finalizing a strategy, facility managers should pay special attention to product efficiency and effectiveness. Most importantly, a holistic approach that addresses dust, bacteria and surface contaminants should be considered to ensure the safety of all visitors. 

Addressing the dust problem

As best practices for cleaning healthcare facilities continue to evolve, researchers are paying increased attention to the role that the environment plays in the development of HAIs. While the risk of spreading microorganisms through direct contact is still an area of concern, it’s important to keep in mind that bacteria can also be spread through the air in the form of dust and other debris. 

Although the presence of dust can often appear insignificant, it can cause serious harm to a facility’s patients and staff. Remarkably, according to the World Health Organization, dust can contain fungi, viral or bacterial pathogens and transmit infectious diseases. Additional research has also linked the connection of the environment — specifically the buildup of dust and debris on surfaces — to the development of HAIs.

Furthermore, microorganisms in dust have been recorded to survive for an extended amount of time and can travel from one surface to another seamlessly. In consequence, it’s essential that health care facilities consistently address the issue through ongoing and diligent cleaning with the appropriate products. 

Developing a cleaning strategy

Developing an effective cleaning strategy is easier said than done. These days, cleaning staffs are often tasked with doing more in less time while still maintaining or exceeding aesthetic standards. In addition, healthcare facilities are now operating with extended hours of operation and providing a wide variety of services, which can make cleaning more challenging. In an effort to develop a comprehensive and efficient sanitation strategy, facility managers should consider the following best practices: 

Audit: To proactively ensure the correct cleaning strategy is in place, it’s important to first understand the problem areas within the facility and determine where efficiencies can be made by conducting an audit. 

Immediate vs Long-term Considerations: After the audit and during the product selection phase of any cleaning plan, facility managers should weigh the benefits of both immediate and long-term solutions. For example, utilizing a dusting product like 3M™ Easy Trap™ Sweep & Dust Sheets on a floor addresses the immediate concern of eliminating debris. A long-term solution would be to install matting to help prevent dirt and debris from being brought into a facility.

Streamline: When possible, facility managers should augment efficiencies and labor by integrating cleaning tools and products that are effective, easy to use, durable and versatile.

Identifying effective solutions

Dusting and disinfecting are two key elements within a cleaning strategy that can successfully address the risk of infection. As a result, both processes should be completed on a daily basis and routinely measured to address areas of success and concern.  

For dust and mopping tasks, tools that trap, collect and discard dirt, dust and hair are ideal as opposed to products that simply move dust around. Furthermore, when selecting the best tool for dusting, building managers should consider a solution that can be easily incorporated into an existing system to minimize overall costs.

In addition to dusting, disinfectants play a key role in infection control. However, one of the biggest challenges facility managers often face is determining the right disinfectant for specific jobs and using them properly. For example, many individuals don’t consider the appropriate dwell time for chemicals and immediately wipe down the surface before bacteria is eliminated. Fortunately, there are now products on the market that require less dwell time, which decreases the time spent on a task and increases cleaning efficiencies. 

For all health care facilities, it’s important to implement a proactive cleaning strategy with strong dusting and disinfectant elements in order to successfully combat HAIs. Ultimately, by selecting the right products and processes for a specific cleaning situation, efficiencies that minimize time, labor and cost can be identified. Most importantly, with the right cleaning strategy, hospital infection rates will decrease, leading to increased patient safety and satisfaction.

Rochelle Quandt, Market Development Manager - Floor Cleaning Products with 3M Commercial Solutions Division



3. Cozad A, Jones RD. Disinfection and the prevention of infectious disease. Am J Infect Control. 2003;31(4): 243-254.

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