Know your health system: Environmental Services
From preparing patient rooms to clearing hallways and sanitizing outpatient clinics, the employees in Environmental Services allow all of us to do our jobs in a clean, comfortable and — most importantly — safe atmosphere.
Here are some things you may not know about one of the most visible — but often overlooked — departments at UMHS.
Big numbers for a bigger job
The EVS department is large because the job is monumental. In all, 527 full-time employees, including 124 overnight staff members, clean and maintain every square foot of the health system each day.
That’s 2.9 million square feet, including nearly 1,000 patient rooms and every outpatient clinic.
“We create conditions that limit exposure to germs, stop the spread of infectious diseases and lessen the injury risk for all UMHS patients and employees,” said Ben Borden, administrative manager for EVS. “That’s a 24-hour-a-day job.”
Quick, efficient, effective
When a patient is discharged, it’s up to EVS to get his or her hospital room ready for another as quickly as possible. An EVS team member changes the sheets, disposes of any waste and sanitizes every inch of space — from floor to ceiling — in a process that currently takes about 70 minutes.
“We’re constantly looking at ways to improve our system,” said Maurits Hughes, director of EVS. That’s why the department’s long-term goal is to get a room turned over much quicker, in a mere 52 minutes. “The quicker the turnover, the quicker we can help our patients,” Hughes said.
But efficiency doesn’t happen at the expense of safety, and the department has the data and evidence to prove it. Departmental leaders use culture swabs to test more than 160 rooms per month and measure how well the team is sanitizing the spaces.
“If we’re not meeting our standards, we look at everything, from our training process to the type of cleaners we use to where we store our equipment,” said Mike Alexander, a business analyst for EVS. “We are committed to constantly improving our work.”
Much more than cleaning
On top of cleaning patient, visitor and staff areas, EVS performs a wide array of other services. This includes restocking supplies in both public and staff restrooms across the health system, maintaining cleanliness levels in all public areas, monitoring the health system’s recycling program and much more.
Despite the litany of tasks, the department’s core mission — patient safety and comfort — is never overlooked.
Team members get ample training in customer service, an aspect of the job fully embraced by EVS employees.
“It’s incredible to see the types of relationships our employees create with patients — some of whom are here for weeks at a time. We have a special connection with those folks,” Hughes said. “Recently, I was walking down to the cafeteria and saw one of our employees walking into the gift shop. He was buying a gift — out of his own pocket — for a patient who was about to be discharged.”
How they can help you
If you need immediate assistance from Environmental Services, the department can be reached 24 hours a day at Ext. 2-5326.
For non-emergency situations, such as non-hazardous waste pick-up, you may call the main office number at 6-5167 or submit a request online.
Next time you see a member of EVS, join us in thanking them for keeping the health system a safe and comfortable environment for everyone!