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From back corridors to the front desk: The right approach to hospital maintenance

by Clean India Journal Editor
0 comment

Ashwini Walawalkar, Country Head-TCFM

Healthcare occupies one of the top positions when it comes to critical cleaning and housekeeping. Each area in any hospital requires meticulous planning, scheduling, product identification, process definition and more. Ashwini Walawalkar, Country Head-TCFM, shares the right approach to planning a maintenance schedule for any hospital.

Let us say you have been approached by a healthcare client. What questions do you ask to help you decide on your approach, strategy, proposal, value addition and SOPs?

About the client: How long have they been in the healthcare industry? Are they a single-specialty or multi-specialty hospital? How many departments does the hospital have?

About the facility: What kind of infrastructure do they have? What is the condition of the infrastructure? How many patient beds do they have? What is the proximity to the nearest colonies potential employees live?

About operations: What is their shift schedule? What activities are part of their operations?

About client needs: What are the standards they follow? Are they looking for quality manpower alone, or manpower along with services that can improve their operations? Are they open to us suggesting the manpower required based on their needs and our experience? Do they want to rely mainly on mechanised solutions, or still want a personal connection in the form of manual cleaning as well?

About the contract: What are the requirements to qualify for their RFP? Do they want a single service or multiple services? If there is an existing service provider, why do they want to change the contract? Are they looking for some kind of optimisation? Are they looking for some kind of intervention of technology?

How do you plan service schedules?

There is a strict schedule for cleaning patient rooms. The floor needs to be not just mopped but also scrubbed, since one does not want infections to be transmitted from the previous occupant of the room to the next occupant. We have to make sure that the room is sanitised before it is handed back to the booking team.

Cleaning of patients’ rooms cannot be done at night, unless we are specifically asked to clean up a spill or there is some other issue, as we do not wish to disturb their sleep.

When it comes to patient care, this is done under the strict guidance and supervision of the nursing staff, since it involves directly interacting with patients and moving them from place to place as required.

How does TCFM clean OTs between surgeries?

As per standard procedure, there needs to be a certain gap between one operation and another, since fumigation has to be done, and specialised chemicals are used for that purpose. After it is done, our supervisors have to make sure that there is no human intervention, to keep it in sanitised condition until the healthcare staff – who have aseptically scrubbed up – enter.

Accomplishing this within a narrow time-frame is challenging, and needs specialised manpower.

Where is TCFM using cleaning machines for healthcare housekeeping?

Mostly, the major footfall in a hospital happens in the OPD, which works during fixed hours (say, 8 am to 8 pm). When an OPD patient visits the hospital, the only form of cleaning they see is mopping; that too, dry mopping, since the floor takes a few minutes to dry after wet mopping.

We may choose to temporarily barricade an area for wet mopping, but deep cleaning of the floor happens at night, when there are no OPD patients or visitors.

How can sustainability and healthcare FM go hand-in-hand?

We have been recommending the use of green chemicals to our healthcare clients, as they do not pollute the groundwater.

There are also many processes that involve minimal usage of water. For example, there are specialised mops and trolleys for wet mopping that do not require too much water, but still provide the same level of cleaning.

We are also moving towards microfibre-based equipment, which can be used multiple times and washed in a sanitised manner in washing machines and steamer dryers.

Waterless urinals are another solution we advocate. The healthcare sector has been slow in accepting these.

We also advocate sensor-based lighting and BMS-controlled central air conditioning systems which are automatically switched off when a room is not in use.

What role does digitalisation play in healthcare FM?

Basic digitalisation in the form of attendance systems, inventory management and energy management are already in place. We have digital logbooks with digital checklists and have been using them for years now. The healthcare industry has its own norms and the introduction of further digitisation will require their initiative and cooperation.

What other services does TCFM offer the healthcare sector?

Let’s start from the front office, where patient registration happens. Our people are responsible for scheduling appointments, coordinating with doctors, generating patient files, as well as helping with room allocation and physical movement of reports, etc. We are vendor partners for back office management in healthcare.

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