Cleaning To Perfection
Crothall Healthcare Environmental Services rise above clinical support, bringing top- quality experience in every health care setting to improve patient safety and provide the best support to clinicians.
Memorial Hermann’s administration took note of the excellence of Crothall’s team and tapped it to spread the culture of safety around the hospital, which treats a large number of patients with chronic health issues.
At a Glance
Memorial Hermann Health System
Safety audit scores showed a perfect environment. An annual review showed 100% in system safety in 2018, rising steadily from 88% in 2014.
Press Ganey scores on room cleanliness rose to 75% in 2019 after their own steady increase. TIRR Memorial Hermann’s own quality assurance inspections numbered 663 in 2018, with 95% compliance to the institution’s high standards, and the facility has been injury-free for more than six years.
Excellence at Every Level
Crothall joined the TIRR Memorial Hermann community at a vital time. The hospital was expanding in 2007 when Crothall won a bid to handle the facility’s environmental services. The administration sought cohesion for operations across the board. “We’re lucky to have a team that reflects who we are,” said Rhonda Abbott, Associate Vice President of Clinical Operations at TIRR Memorial Hermann. “Our culture is their culture, and our pillars of education, advocacy, clinical care and researchers are their foundation as well.”
Low turnover drives institutional pride and departmental memory. The account grew from 20 to 35 employees while at least a dozen remained from more than three years previous. Two employees even remain from Crothall’s predecessor, which departed in 2007. In an industry with high rates of employee replacement, especially with outgoing vendors, Crothall kept the confidence and loyalty of a record number of EVS workers at Memorial Hermann.
Crothall managers keep ideas fresh for old and new faces. Employee retention brings few challenges, but a notable test for managers is keeping workers from getting complacent after months or years of the same tasks. The team’s designated “safety champion” is responsible for drilling workers, no matter their skill level or years of experience, on the basics to keep the information fresh and fun.
Breaking the Mold, Making the Rules
Training builds and reinforces the best work habits. A culture of safety is the foundation for every directive, no matter how small, and it begins at the top. Managers make rounds with employees and show the best practices, correcting themselves as they go. “If I spray a surface while I’m wearing only one glove, I stop and point it out,” said Clarence Owens, Crothall Unit Director at Memorial Hermann Health System. “Actions matter a lot, because actions are everyone’s first language.”
A few simple rules are more than they appear. Logical associations help EVS workers keep track of the best practices. The “G2” rule – gloves and goggles – reminds workers to wear goggles if a task requires gloves, even if simple chemicals are in use. “Even if it’s water and soap, people wear goggles,” said Owens. “Employees wanted to keep doing this to get in the safe habits. That transcends simple rules.”
Safety comes from outside the workplace. Crothall service lines are built on competence that never checks out. Managers use huddles to draw on aspects of personal safety which guide workers to the best habits, so safety from the home or the road helps inform safety decisions at work. “We have families, we live lives like our patients, and it shows when we’re relatable,” said Owens. “Safety is just like a smile. It’s contagious.”
“Crothall’s EVS team here is an impressive group, They are always on their toes as well as responsive, kind and caring. The current leaders and staff have set a new standard for safe environments.”— Mary Ann Euliarte, Chief Nursing Officer at TIRR Memorial Hermann
Solving Safety Whodunnits
EVS workers promote safety beyond their scope of work. Memorial Hermann’s administration took note of the excellence of Crothall’s team and tapped it to spread the culture of safety around the hospital, which treats a large number of patients with chronic health issues. Since a high volume of transfers from beds and wheelchairs can increase patient risk, the EVS team conducted an audit of their duties and spaces to keep patients safe.
A new procedure kept harm away from patients. Audits uncovered steps in procedures that exposed patients to more risk, like trip hazards on carpet edges and patients’ poor posture during transfers. EVS workers also reminded patients and transporters to use handrails and avoid cellphone use during movement. These actions and further audits brought incident and injury rates down across several departments.
“Our environmental service workers are also investigators,” said Abbott. “They even used video footage from our campus to find unsafe practices and understand how to prevent them before something happened. This is on top of their normal duties as service professionals, wielding smiles like shields against customer concerns.”
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