Crothall Healthcare Blog

Patient Safety is Critical: Here’s How Working With Our Client Achieved That Goal

John Paul Laberge has had an immense amount of experience overseeing Crothall’s operations at a hospital system in Charlotte and Winston-Salem, and two hospitals in Virginia. He has been a Regional Director of Operations since 2015 and knows his territory well, having grown up in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Working at Novant for the past 15 years was a special experience. I grew up in this region, and the hospital system has been one of the rocks of our community for a long time. It’s one of our most valued local institutions, and it has served our community well during the pandemic.

Despite my tenure there, I never forgot that listening to our clients and understanding their needs is our number one goal. Here’s a good example.

We’ve been working closely with this system since 2018 to improve our disinfection techniques and drive down health-associated infections (HAIs). Working together, we made significant progress, reducing HAIs by more than 60 percent during the past three years.

In addition to improving patient safety, the extra treatment needed to care for a patient with a C-Diff HAI costs the hospital an average of $10,500 for each patient. Working with the Infection Prevention team, we helped reduce the hospital’s costs to treat HAIs by $2.2 million during the prior four years, and our team at Novant continues to hold strong.

Getting there, of course, was hard work. After a long review process, our EVS team and hospital officials decided to focus on eliminating C. difficile, a germ (bacterium) that causes severe diarrhea and colitis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that C. difficile causes almost half a million infections in the United States each year. And, unfortunately, one in 11 people over age 65 diagnosed with a healthcare-associated C. difficile infection die within one month.

Working closely with Rich Feczko, Crothall’s National Director of Systems, Standards, Innovation & Global Support, we reviewed our daily cleaning routine for patient rooms and decided to make a change. We added Noroxycdiff to our daily cleaning routine. This is a disinfectant that effectively eliminates C difficile spores in only two minutes.

One four-ounce bottle of concentrate mixed with water can easily be loaded into an electrostatic hand-held sprayer and applied to all surfaces. Once it is sprayed, an area can be cleaned and disinfected in between two and five minutes. Not only did it kill off C diff; we didn’t need to change any cleaning routines. It was so effective that we decided to treat not only patient rooms but also public waiting areas, furniture, elevators, and hallways.

Combined with Surfacide’s ultraviolet light emitter system, HAIs began dropping almost immediately. Watching the improvement happen during the past three years was a satisfying experience. It shows how our work can truly impact patient safety.

Making a Difference During COVID-19

As a provider of EVS, Food and Nutrition Services, and Patient Transportation services to several of the system’s hospitals, it was important to be attuned to the needs of each hospital. Each facility has its own heartbeat. For most, efficient patient throughout is a critical component of their success. So, from our end, Patient Transportation and EVS worked cohesively and as efficiently as possible to meet the needs of our clients.

As treating COVID-19 patients increased last spring and summer, communications with the medical staff became critical to make certain we met the hospital system’s needs. After attending daily conference calls with doctors, clinicians, infection prevention specialists, and others, we were fortunate enough to already have the tools in place to implement processes to safely serve patients.

For example, early during the COVID-19 outbreak, there was a concern that there would not be enough N95 masks. To solve this issue, we helped organize a process for hospital team members to collect these masks at each facility and transport them to a central location. The masks were then treated with technology that eliminated surface and airborne contaminants and then were set aside for reuse. Fortunately, these masks were never needed. However, we demonstrated that we could support a massive effort and do our part to solve a potential problem.

As we prepare to move into a post-COVID-19 world, the Novant team has shown how they can make a difference and adapt at a moment’s notice. They faced several obstacles in providing a safe environment for healthcare workers and patients, showing grit and determination. We are all looking forward to the future, knowing we have likely worked through the toughest period any of us will ever face. We are smarter and stronger – and ready to face the next challenge.

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