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Cleaning Urgent Care and Outpatient Healthcare Facilities During COVID-19

How MedStar Health’s Ambulatory Sites Navigated the COVID-19 Pandemic Through Standardized Environmental Services

Challenge

In addition to its acute care locations, MedStar Health provides ambulatory care in over 300 buildings, 120 of which Crothall Healthcare cleans (leased vs. owned), occupying 820,000 square feet in the Baltimore-District of Columbia metropolitan area. These facilities include medical office buildings, ambulatory surgery centers (ASC), multi-specialty clinics, urgent care facilities, and professional office buildings. In its 2018 fiscal year, MedStar had more than two (2) million ambulatory visits and surgeries. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many hospitals temporarily stopped performing elective surgeries, and patients went outside the hospitals to receive care. MedStar kept its ambulatory facilities open to continue caring for thousands of people, and patient visits surged. At some MedStar urgent care sites, patient visits skyrocketed 200-300 percent. Unlike acute care hospitals, these buildings did not have patient and isolation rooms, or intensive care units (ICU).

“The goal for MedStar was to maintain a clean, safe environment for its patients, visitors and staff during this extraordinary period. We responded to their needs with a comprehensive cleaning and disinfection program. Once Crothall’s enhanced cleaning program was implemented, it was clear that patients and clinicians had a higher level of trust and confidence during the time of a national health crisis.” — Tony Gill, Regional Vice President, Crothall Healthcare

In typical times, a clinician would wipe down tables after a patient exam. But during the pandemic, each room needed to be thoroughly cleaned by a trained cleaning professional between patients. Common areas, triage and waiting rooms also needed to be constantly cleaned. All these factors combined created a significant safety challenge Crothall helped MedStar overcome.

Solution

Standardize Acute Care and Ambulatory Environmental Services

MedStar relies on Crothall for environmental services across ten of its hospitals and 120 nonacute facilities. By standardizing its environmental services across its ambulatory locations with one outsourced partner, MedStar reduces variability and keeps service and cleanliness standards consistent. This standardized approach to cleanliness meant MedStar’s ambulatory sites had immediate access to Crothall’s hospital-grade cleaning services, protocols, and products.

Secure the Supply Chain

The pandemic disrupted the global supply chain for personal protective equipment (PPE) and many critical supplies. MedStar’s strategic partnership with Crothall secured access to PPE and critical supplies, including at its ambulatory facilities.

Increase Cleaning Frequency

During non-pandemic times, ambulatory sites are cleaned mostly at night, but the pandemic required cleaning around the clock. In response, Crothall’s ambulatory environmental services team designed a cost-effective solution that delivered a comprehensive cleaning program. Crothall hired the equivalent of 20 new full-time day housekeepers to continuously clean the 120 facilities, working from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. each day before the night crew arrived. If a healthcare worker or patient tested positive for COVID-19, a SWAT team of Crothall associates quickly arrived at the site and performed a terminal cleaning to prevent infection spread.

Add More Visible Safety Measures

Crothall installed more than 500 additional hand sanitizer stations throughout the 120 buildings, helping prevent infection while increasing awareness among patients and confidence among caregivers that they were in a clean and safe facility. Around the clock cleaning also meant Crothall’s housekeepers cleaned in front of patients and staff – a visual que that MedStar was taking necessary actions to keep everyone safe.

The Short- and Long-Term Impact of Protecting Patients and Staff During a Crisis

“We needed a quick response that enabled us to keep treating patients while giving them confidence they were in a safe environment. There was an additional cost to hiring more Crothall associates and cleaning our 120 facilities more frequently. But there was never any hesitation to do everything in our power to keep our facilities open. As a result, many of our urgent care facilities attracted significantly greater volume – and we feel confident they will return for years to come.” — Jason Mueller, Assistant Vice President, Facilities Management, MedStar Ambulatory Services

Results

Met increased cleaning volume demand

The pandemic disrupted the global supply chain for personal protective equipment (PPE) and many critical supplies. MedStar’s strategic partnership with Crothall secured access to PPE and critical supplies, even at its ambulatory facilities. MedStar leveraged Crothall’s recruitment resources to hire 20 new associates to keep up with increased ambulatory cleaning needs.

Improved Patient and Staff Experience

More frequent, visible cleaning, plus cleaning stations communicated “safety” to patients and staff, improving their experience during a scary time.

Achieved hospital-grade cleaning and infection prevention standards

Crothall’s comprehensive cleaning program at MedStar’s ambulatory locations ensured MedStar met all necessary standards during an unprecedented uptick in patient visits.

Unlocked best practices that were transferred to acute care

Following the initial success at the Ambulatory sites, Crothall and MedStar replicated the increased frequency and visibility of cleaning in MedStar’s acute care facilities. Known as the Gold Team for their exceptional skill and focus, 80 EVS associates worked continuously to clean and disinfect each facility in the 10-hospital system.

Better Than Expected Improvements

“As COVID-19 spread, we needed an EVS organization with the experience and prevention knowledge to provide hospital-grade services at our Ambulatory sites. Crothall’s infection expertise, protocols, and ability to quickly develop an effective cleaning and disinfection plan for the pandemic enabled us to adjust to treat tens of thousands of patients who needed healthcare during this critical period. Additionally, our staff engagement survey at MedStar Washington Hospital Center showed high satisfaction levels with the Gold Team, which was the impetus to add Environmental Services FTE’s across the system to keep patients and clinical staff safe.” – Ed Robinson, Vice President, Integrated Supporter Operations, MedStar Health