Many are familiar with the terms “janitorial” and “housekeeping,” but not as many are familiar with environmental services (EVS), a term that is used to exclusively describe cleaning performed in health care settings.

At this point, EVS professionals are used to being called janitors and housekeepers, but these labels don’t quite encompass all the necessary responsibilities these individuals take on. An article published by ASHE explains that it’s time to shift our view of cleaning services in health care, which go far beyond the responsibilities found in commercial cleaning.

EVS technicians play an important role in health care. It is their responsibility to work with hospital personnel to keep patients and staff members healthy with the proper medical cleaning and disinfecting. EVS is so important that it is often referred to as “the first defense against infection control.”

With such responsibility, EVS technicians must go through detailed training, often overseen by an EVS director who manages methods for quality control. For former OctoClean EVS Technician, Ricardo Fuentes, training began on day one.

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Ricardo followed OctoClean’s VP of Health Care Services, Greg Stowe, to the Infection Control Department of the hospital. There he learned cleaning standards and regulations as well as transmission based precautions for contact, droplet and airborne transmission.

He also learned about basic safety precautions to prevent infection transmission. Before entering a room, EVS staff are required to put on a disposable isolation gown, gloves, a mask and goggles. They must also sanitize their hands, or gel in, gel out, when they enter and leave an exam room. When a patient is discharged from the room, it is their job to clean and sanitize every surface with disinfectant in preparation for the next patient.

EVS technicians ensure that patients feel safe during a time where they are vulnerable. Keeping a medical facility clean is crucial to upholding patient satisfaction because an orderly facility is perceived as a competent one. Like health care personnel, EVS staff members must also observe HIPAA and respect patient privacy.

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In short, they deserve respect. It is hard work that requires operating EVS equipment, handling bodily fluids and terminal cleaning often in the presence of deceased patients. Technicians also work holidays, weekends and night shifts. In addition to their own services, they must also schedule necessary specialty services like floor care, carpet care and window cleaning.

Proper medical cleaning requires frequent and consistent communication between health care providers and EVS technicians.

“It was great being able to build relationships with the staff and grow my knowledge base. Working together to maintain the facility was important,” said Ricardo.