Cleaning a healthcare facility calls for different techniques than cleaning commercial buildings. Hospitals, doctor’s offices, and health clinics are full of sick patients and people recovering from surgical procedures. It’s essential to keep these places clean and sterile to prevent the transmission of infections and other diseases. To help keep your healthcare facility in tip-top shape, read on to learn about best practices for healthcare facilities.
Or, don’t let the stress of maintaining your facility distract you from your own important duties. Contact our team at 360clean to request a free estimate and find out how we can help!
Healthcare Cleaning vs. Regular Housekeeping
One of the main differences between standard housekeeping and healthcare facility cleaning is that healthcare workers must undergo bloodborne pathogen training.
This specialized OSHA training course teaches employees how to safely clean and handle bodily fluids that can carry dangerous diseases like HIV and hepatitis. Housekeeping services don’t typically require this sort of training, as their employees aren’t exposed to such high-risk conditions.
Another key difference is that healthcare facilities must follow different guidelines. Many facilities have rules dictating what must be cleaned and how often it must be done. This means that it often takes much longer to complete even a single room.
What Is Environmental Cleaning?
Environmental cleaning is the process of cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and materials that pose a risk of infection. Implementing environmental cleaning protocols at your facility is crucial to protecting the health of everyone who enters your building.
To minimize risks and ensure that important policies are being observed, it’s vital to train and educate all staff members on environmental cleaning processes and how they serve to prevent contamination.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
All medical facilities and adjacent practices, such as dentist’s offices, must follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. Cleaning standards are more rigorous for healthcare facilities than other businesses due to the potentially infectious materials that medical professionals deal with daily.
Here are just a few standards that healthcare facilities must follow to avoid being fined or shut down by OSHA.
Blood Borne Pathogens Standard (BBP)
All healthcare offices must take universal precautions for dealing with blood. For this reason, color-coded waste disposal systems are a necessity. These must be clearly labeled for reference purposes.
Industry-specific cleaning standards determine which materials are acceptable for cleaning leaks and spills and how to dispose of contaminated supplies.
Reporting Hazardous Material
Communicating the presence of hazardous materials is vital for keeping employees and patients safe. Signs and other indications should be in place to ensure that all those in the facility understand that there are hazardous materials nearby. Examples of some of the hazardous materials you might find in a typical healthcare facility include:
- Medical waste
- Radiation equipment
These items must be cleaned and maintained appropriately to minimize the risk of harm. All employees must have the proper training before handling hazardous materials.
Types of Cleaning in a Healthcare Facility
Generally, there are three types of cleaning that occur in a hospital. They are routine, terminal, and scheduled cleaning.
Routine cleaning takes place while the patient is in the room. It concentrates on the patient area, removing blood, excretions, and other organic materials.
Routine cleaning reduces germs and creates a visibly clean environment. It should be scheduled at least once every 24 hours.
Terminal cleaning is done in a patient’s room after the patient has been discharged or transferred. It focuses on removing all traces of organic material from the patient’s bed and surrounding area. This process ensures that no bacteria or viruses are transferred to the room’s next occupant.
Terminal cleaning involves a joint effort between all facility staff members to ensure that all surfaces are disinfected, all disposable items are discarded in the correct receptacles, and all tools and equipment are properly sterilized.
The terminal cleaning process ordinarily includes the following tasks:
- Removing and washing soiled eating trays and cutlery
- Stripping and laundering bed linens
- Sterilizing patient-care equipment
- Cleaning and disinfecting all high-touch surfaces
- Cleaning and disinfecting all hand washing sinks
- Inspecting and cleaning window treatments as needed
It’s important to follow a checklist to ensure that you don’t overlook any of these steps.
Scheduled cleaning occurs alongside routine and terminal cleaning. The goal of scheduled cleaning is to reduce dust, debris, and contaminants on low-touch surfaces and items.
Generally, it’s acceptable to use a neutral detergent and water on surfaces that are not at risk of being soiled. However, if any of these surfaces are visibly contaminated with blood, you’ll need to clean and disinfect them immediately.
Basic Healthcare Facility Cleaning Guidelines
Although every healthcare facility has its own set of guidelines, most revolve around a few basic rules designed to minimize the risk of transmitting diseases. All employees are expected to follow them to ensure the success of this goal. Ignoring or forgetting these guidelines could result in employees, patients, or visitors contracting severe illnesses.
Examples of cleanliness guidelines you’ll find in a typical health facility include:
- Taking proper precautions with personal preventive equipment (PPE)
- Using EPA-approved disinfectants
- Cleaning often-overlooked spots like phone handles and light switches
- Following protocols from the Blood Borne Pathogen Standard
- Disposing of sharp items properly
While failure to follow these guidelines doesn’t typically result in monetary fines, it could increase the spread of infectious diseases and damage a facility’s reputation.
Healthcare Cleaning Supplies and Equipment
Choosing the appropriate cleaning supplies and equipment is critical for successful cleaning programs. Thousands of products are available for cleaning healthcare facilities, but you’ll want to look for the right solutions for your facility.
For example, the ideal disinfecting agent would have the following qualities:
- Nontoxic and non-irritating to the skin
- Simple to use and contain information about the required PPE
- Free of harsh fumes or offensive odors
- Soluble in both warm and cold water
- Economically priced
- A broad spectrum of use
- Fast-acting with a short contact time
- Stable in concentration, requiring dilution before use
Furthermore, disinfecting agents should remain active in the presence of small amounts of blood and be compatible with both cleaning cloths and sponges.
Every healthcare facility should have a virtually endless supply of soaps, enzymatic cleaners, and detergents on hand for removing organic materials like dirt and bodily fluids. However, more specialized cleaning agents can also benefit specific areas or materials within the facility.
Managing Cleaning Supplies
Every healthcare facility should maintain a master list of supplies and equipment, including the required quantities. Performing monthly inventory checks and equipment inspections will ensure adequate supply stores and help you anticipate the need for more materials.
Cleaning Tips for Specific Areas
Cleaning a Doctor’s Office
Many different germs and illnesses make their way through the doors of a doctor’s office through the patients, visitors, and staff. There are various spots throughout the office and the patient reception area that you might not think need regular cleaning but can nonetheless hide germs. Some of these areas include:
- Children’s tables, chairs, toys, and books
- Chair armrests throughout the office and exam rooms
- Water fountains
- Door handles
- Pens, computers, and clipboards
Along with these high-touch items, you’ll want to ensure that all countertops, light switches, and windows are being cleaned regularly.
Some areas may appear clean, resulting in them being accidentally overlooked. But bacteria and viruses can linger on just about every kind of surface. Wiping down every surface with a disinfecting product, regardless of whether it’s visibly dirty, can go a long way toward preventing patients and staff from contracting these germs.
Cleaning a Hospital
Special care must be taken when cleaning a hospital due to the number of immunocompromised patients and infectious diseases present. Hospital custodial staff must be adequately trained on proper cleaning and disinfecting techniques, including refresher courses, to prevent these diseases from spreading.
All custodial staff must wear PPE–like face masks and gloves–to prevent contact with germs. In some cases, gowns may be necessary to further protect them from contamination.
Once cleaning begins, make sure you disinfect every surface in the room with an EPA-approved cleaner, including countertops, sinks, and toilets. Other areas that see heavy traffic and require thorough sanitation include:
- Patients’ beds, including headboards, side rails, and mattresses
- IV stands
- Patient monitoring equipment
- Nurse-call buttons
- Bed controls
- Television remotes
Take down privacy curtains, seal them in plastic bags, and place the bags inside a separate laundry bag to send them away for cleaning at an appropriate facility. Windows, walls, and ceilings typically don’t require disinfecting unless they’re visibly soiled or there’s reason to believe they may have become contaminated.
Lastly, any equipment used in the patient’s room during treatment should be disinfected and sent to the appropriate department for sterilization.
Intensive Care Units
Like hospitals, intensive care units require special attention due to the severity of the diseases and the vulnerability of the patients found there. In fact, some areas of an intensive care unit need to be cleaned at least twice a day. Those areas include:
- High-touch surfaces
- Exteriors of occupied neonatal incubators
Emergency departments see a large number of vulnerable patients, making them another high-risk area. High patient traffic increases the likelihood of cross-contamination from infected blood or other bodily fluids, making trauma patients even more susceptible to infection.
The waiting area of the emergency department should be cleaned at least once every 24 hours. But you should plan on cleaning other areas more frequently, including the consultation and procedural rooms and all walking, sitting, and resting surfaces.
Cleaning a Nursing Home
Nursing home facilities must be treated in the same manner as hospitals and doctor’s offices, as they also have a high standard of cleanliness. Many visitors come and go to these places daily, leaving others in the facility at increased risk of disease or infection.
The following tasks are particularly crucial when cleaning and disinfecting nursing home facilities:
- Emptying trash cans
- Disinfecting floors and countertops
- Spot-cleaning walls
- Mopping floors
- Cleaning and disinfecting restrooms
High-touch surfaces like door handles require more frequent cleaning to eliminate contaminants that could harm employees, patients, or visitors.
Nursing homes are often hectic places, and they can harbor untold quantities of germs and viruses. Consequently, custodians must take care to clean every room properly. High-touch areas should be cleaned several times a day, and many other areas must be cleaned daily or even hourly.
Cleaning a Hospice Facility
Cleaning a hospice involves protocols similar to those used to clean hospitals and nursing homes. Disinfecting surfaces with soap or mild detergents can eliminate germs and remove visible dirt, grime, and debris. However, using an EPA-approved disinfectant will kill any remaining viruses or bacteria on the surface, reducing the risk of infection dramatically.
Some parts of a hospice may require more frequent cleaning, such as high-traffic areas, poorly ventilated spaces, and areas that don’t offer access to handwashing stations or hand sanitizers.
Hospice workers must be careful to follow all BBP and Hazardous Communications Standard protocols at all times to ensure the safety of patients, employees, and visitors.
Trust an Experienced Healthcare Facility Cleaning Service
When you want to guarantee your patients are protected and your healthcare facility is following all the necessary guidelines, there’s only one name to call: 360clean.
Get in touch with our knowledgeable team today to request a free estimate and learn more about what we can do to keep your facility clean and safe.