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FINALLY: Hospital housekeepers beginning to get the respect they deserve in superbug fight

A great story today in the Brantford Expositor on the important role played by housekeeping in hospitals. Finally, the media is beginning to recognize the role housekeeping staff play in fighting superbugs and hospital acquired infections.  

In the past, hospital housekeeping services were cutback, privatized and treated as "hotel" or "auxillary" services with predictable consequences for the level of care.  Here's some excerpts from the story:

The job isn't just housekeeping. These days it is much more technical. Today, they collaborate closely with the infection prevention and control department.

"Our environmental service aides are skilled professionals whose contributions are critical to the success of preventing the transmission of infectious diseases not only among patients, but also our staff, physicians and volunteers," Sandra Comand, manager-infection preventionand control said. "They are a highly educated staff who are continually upgrading their skills."

And these days they are about to undertake even more training. "We are introducing a new cleaning process at the Brant Community Healthcare System," said Comand, adding: "This means our environmental service aides are going back to school."....

"The findings of the provincial infectious diseases advisory committee are quite clear: it is not just about cleanliness but also the prevention of the transmission of germs," says Comand."Obviously in patient care areas, we must disinfect to kill spores, such as C. difficile, VRE, MRSA and the other superbugs that have sometimes invaded health-care environments, including long-term care homes and hospitals...."

Each and every time a patient is discharged from the hospital, ESAs, as environmental service aides are called, must prepare the room for the next patient. They disinfect all the surfaces -beds, washroom, tables, doorknobs, the call bell, all the high-touch areas that health-care providers or patients will come in contact with. This process requires anywhere from 20 minutes up to an hour depending on the amount of equipment in the room. Health-care providers use special wipes to clean equipment such as stethoscopes and blood pressure in between patients.


  1. This is inspiring!

    It's great to see the intense value of the work done by support services teams in Ontario Hospitals finally getting some recognition.

    The work of non-clinical staff is an integral piece of the healthcare system.


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