By Dan Franklin, HHS Vice President of Environmental Services, Healthcare

First impressions follow patients throughout their entire stay at a hospital and, ultimately, it impacts their overall satisfaction scores when they leave. With that, just as someone would prepare their home for visitors—making sure the common areas are presentable and being hospitable during their company’s stay—hospitals should do the same for patients every day. Environmental service (EVS) teams can ensure a comfortable welcome by clearing all trash cans of debris, shining the floors with a new coat of wax, and disinfecting and cleaning waiting areas properly; but, attention to detail goes beyond that. EVS team members can impact patient satisfaction scores with an intricate focus that begins in the emergency department (ED).   

Ensuring Aces are in the Right Places

EVS-Public Areas-29The ED works at a feverish pace, and hospitals need EVS team members who not only have great customer service skills, but also who are quick on their feet and can handle the fast-moving environment. Identifying these team members can be done by beginning an awards program that incentivizes quality work. Using the program, take note of individuals who have achieved safety recognitions, completed quick turnarounds for room cleans, provided consistent cleans, and received positive patient feedback. This helps create a candidate base of team members who are fit to take on the fast-paced ED, while still providing best-in-class customer service to those they serve.

Equipping the Team with Specific Training and Skills

The team members chosen to be dedicated ED housekeepers need to be introduced to every element of the job to guarantee they are equipped to execute their duties efficiently. Beyond shadowing the director and mentors, job training should include building camaraderie with the entire clinical team. Introductions should be made to everyone in the ED—from the charge nurse and unit secretaries, to the medical technicians and physicians. Supporting the clinical team in their needs not only requires that the team member has ownership over their job duties, but also a strong sense of partnership.

Building a System that Follows Patients Throughout Their Stay

The majority of patients who enter through the ED will be transported upstairs for continued observation. That’s why what happens in their first few hours at the hospital can determine their perception throughout the rest of their stay. ED EVS teams are key to providing a first impression that will follow the patient through their stay. Whether that includes tidying up the room while patients are out for labs or radiology testing, providing a comforting ear while they wait for their physician, or offering a chair for a patient’s loved one—this is an opportunity to affect a person’s perception. By accurately building a strong EVS system that begins in the ED, it can easily be translated to other areas of the hospital to ensure a well-rounded, patient-focused operation.

First impressions begin at the front door, whether that person is entering through the main lobby or coming in through the emergency department. Being admitted into the hospital can be a traumatizing event, but housekeepers can make a difference and bring some relief in a hectic environment. By utilizing proper techniques to ensure cleanliness,  following detailed strategies, and partnering with clinical staff to provide top-quality service, EVS team members can make a difference in a patient’s experience—from the first interaction in the ED to their discharge.

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Dan Franklin joined HHS nine years ago as an assistant director of environmental services at a facility in Florida. Currently, Dan is vice president of environmental services, where he manages multiple accounts across the coastal region of the United States and specializes in safety performance and patient satisfaction. Dan also chairs the HHS infection prevention faculty.