Recently I was asked about the difference between cleaning an office and a medical facility. There are many!

To best answer this question the first thing we need to establish is what is clean? And the truth is that it depends. “Clean” in an office is different than “clean” in a hospital. “But why?” you say. “Isn’t there a universally applicable standard of clean?” Well… yes and no.

Fundamentally cleaning has two purposes: to make a space look nice (to turn disorder into order – akin to pushing a reset button) and to reduce the “bio load” on a surface. Bio load is a fancy way to describe the dust, dirt and grime (i.e. the organic material) that accumulates. Normally, some of this you can see (obvious dust and dirt) and some of this is only perceptible through a microscope. If you do a swab test in an office or home you are likely to find soils from the outdoor environment, as well as human skin and bacteria from human nasal cavities and other orifices.

Since an office tends to have a lower level of traffic, and this of primarily healthy individuals, it isn’t necessary to clean using the same methods and procedures one would in a medical facility. Cleaning commercially centers on making a space look presentable, removing dirt, and maintaining surfaces (e.g. such as carpet, tile, and vinyl flooring) so that they stay in good repair. Pathogens tend to collect on high-touch surfaces such as doors and telephone receivers so it is important to regularly disinfect these, especially during flu season.

A hospital or medical facility, on the other hand, is bombarded by an enormous quantity and variety of pathogens on a daily basis because, after all, the primary function of these facilities is to serve sick people. Thus, reducing the bio-load on a surface and eliminating pathogens in a medical facility, is a preeminent and on-going focus of medical cleaning. Patient care rooms are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected on a daily basis and/or every time a patient is discharged. Patient care equipment that is reusable is generally sterilized. In addition, housekeeping staff are constantly making rounds throughout the day removing trash and soiled linen and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, including:

– Faucet handles

– Light switches

– Bed rails

– Nurse call buttons

– Over-bed and bedside tables

– Foot boards on beds

– Remote controls

– Telephones

– Drinking faucets

– Call buttons in elevators

The need for proper and frequent disinfection is most vital in areas like the Intensive Care and Isolation units because these patients tend to have immune systems that have already been severely compromised by infections or accidents. The Emergency Room is another high-risk area for infection because it is a major admitting center for a hospital and patients have not been separated yet based on their condition or type of illness.

Regardless of the unit they are serving in, it is important for the head of Hospital Housekeeping (also known as Environmental Services) to stay in close contact with the hospital’s infection control officer to make sure that the products they are using have a kill claim that encompasses the full range of pathogens that may be present in the facility. We also use Westlaw to stay abreast of the latest changes in State regulations.

Most facilities will fall somewhere on this office to hospital continuum in terms of stringency and purpose of cleaning.

No matter what kind of facility you own, at OctoClean we can help you develop a cleaning program that is uniquely tailored to your needs and sensitive to your budget. Call us today for a free consultation.