Infection Control: Is your cleaning company qualified?

When it comes to infection control in your hospitals, clinics and labs, there isn’t room for error. That we can agree on. But what should you look for to ensure the cleaning company you’ve hired is truly up to handling the stringent requirements you have?

To start, look for two things: Experience and TRUSTED certification.

Experience Handling Infection Control

Let’s face it, nothing beats decades of experience. Understanding the ins and outs of a healthcare facility’s nuanced needs is complex, especially when it comes to infection control.

We like to think of our healthcare teams as our special forces of cleaning. Not only does the team undergo extensive training, but they’re led by in-the-field veterans, including our director and manager who together have over 40 years of experience working in complex and large healthcare systems.

With that experience comes dialed-in processes, meaning you don’t have to wait for your cleaning crew to get up to speed. They know what they need to do when they walk through the door.

For instance, consider terminal cleaning procedures required in operating rooms. Along with what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other organizations require, our Kleeners have a 25-point cleaning process that guides them through EACH terminal cleaning. But we don’t only rely on process when it comes to operating rooms, we verify our work with ATP testing.

Whenever considering a new cleaning partner, or when auditing your existing partner, dig deep into their processes and in-the-field experience. Always require they “show” their work.

Achieving GBAC Standards

A lot of organizations claim they’re trained to handle infection control needs. We saw it all too frequently during the pandemic, and I doubt the claims will cease overnight.

For that reason, look for credible third-party validation. The most trusted certification comes from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), which is a division of ISSA. GBAC accreditation and training ensures your cleaners meet stringent, evidence-based standards for cleaning, infection control and disinfection. Subsequently, it elevates the reputation of your facility.

It’s important, too, that more than the organization’s leadership team is trained. At KleenMark, which has specialized in healthcare cleaning for years, we have more than 100 operators trained as GBAC technicians, ranging from supervisors to frontline cleaners.

As GBAC-trained technicians, they study cleaning theory, infectious disease prevention and control techniques, and medical grade disinfection. That means they’ll always have the most up-to-date information available to keep facilities clean and safe. 

I share all this because it’s important to know what to look for no matter who you partner with. If you want to learn more about our experience and certifications, don’t hesitate to send us a note any time.

Waste Stream Management: Keeping Cleaners from Making Costly Mistakes

For health care facilities, it’s not only the infection control teams that need to understand waste stream management – it’s as important that your cleaning crews have a firm grasp on how to properly dispose of an array of items.

Why? Well, health and safety are the obvious reasons. Gallons of blood doesn’t belong in the dumpster, nor do you want needles floating around the recycling bin. But, a well-trained team can also protect you from potentially costly fines that can sneak up on you if crews aren’t well versed in waste management – even if the mistake is an honest one.

Color coding. So we’re on the same page.

If you’re reading this it’s highly likely you’re aware of the color-coding system healthcare systems have adopted. While it can vary, it generally looks like this:

Yellow – Chemotherapy drugs and associated medical supplies
Red – Biohazards such as bodily fluids, sharps, etc.
Black – Non-biohazardous pharmaceutical waste
White – Medical recyclables

Nuanced Training Matters

All of our healthcare cleaning crews undergo extensive training, ranging from on-site procedures to in-depth practice with our healthcare leadership team and health & safety officer.

We’re regimented in our teaching, so understanding the color-coded system is a must. For us, that’s table stakes.

But, it goes beyond that. It’s critical our cleaning crews understand the specifics to help you prevent potential fines being issued against your organization. What do I mean?

Well, for instance, if “recyclables” are dry, they can be recycled in a white container. But, if they contain more than 2% liquid they have to go into a black container. The same goes for blood. If, less than 2% of the item contains blood, then it can go in a black container. Otherwise, it needs go into a red one.

Plenty of other examples exist, but I imagine you’re aware of them. The point is, it’s critical to ensure your cleaners – on staff and part of your commercial cleaning company – clearly understand how to handle each and every item.

If they don’t understand, as mentioned earlier, it can be costly. Like six-figure costly.

What a Mistake Can Cost

We’ll leave you with this quick story …

This is a true instance that led to a steep fine for a healthcare organization. An employee, who worked as part of the janitorial team, was trying to be efficient. To save time, he put all the trash bags he had gathered into the dumpster.

Now, he wasn’t trying to do anything wrong. Had no ill intentions. He was simply not well trained. So, along with those bags, he also threw a 3-gallon sharps container into the dumpster to shave a few seconds. That mistake ended up costing the company over $100,000 in fines.

I share this as a sobering reminder that it pays to be diligent with the details, and it’s a must for cleaning crews operating in healthcare facilities. Our teams are among the most extensively trained folks in the business because we realize what one mistake can lead to.

If you’re curious about how we train our teams and approach cleaning in health care facilities, send us a note any time.

About the Author

Tenzin Kunga is KleenMark’s Medical Operations Assistant Manager. With decades of experience, Tenzin oversees some of the most sophisticated medical cleaning programs for healthcare facilities throughout Wisconsin.

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