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Seeking a Cleaning Service? Ask Tough Questions.

Posted By by Steve Zimmerman, MBA, director of healthcare services, ServiceMaster Clean, Monday, August 28, 2017

Urgent care facilities are among the fastest growing healthcare providers in America. More than 7,100 are located across the U.S. and an estimated 1,000 new facilities are being added each year. Some of these centers are open 24 hours a day, caring for patients and families who have immediate needs that often come with a high degree of infection risk.


Because the facilities care for patients with acute illnesses and injuries, urgent care centers face a common risk: airborne or contact spreading of pathogens. Patients may be coughing and sneezing, have runny noses or fever. Vomiting, diarrhea, and bleeding from an injury are not uncommon.


This makes the prevention of cross-contamination a top priority for all facility managers. Urgent care clinics have the same high standards for infection control and prevention as hospitals but face different challenges, such as fewer resources.


What’s the solution? Partner with an industry-leading healthcare cleaning provider for some or all of your cleaning needs. As you and your urgent care clinic consider this investment, here are some issues to address before you sign a contract:



The quality of training directly determines the quality of service you receive. Does the company provide training for different levels of patient isolation, including blood borne pathogens, DOT/RCRA hazardous waste training, infection prevention measures, terminal cleaning, hand hygiene, cross contamination, and the difference between cleaning and disinfection? Does it provide on-going education to ensure that it stays up-to-date with industry standards? Make sure the training staff is knowledgeable. Ask specific questions about routine disinfection protocol to test their level of knowledge and, if possible, attend a training session or review the training materials to make sure they meet or exceed your standards.


Evaluations and Quality Control

Ongoing quality control assessments help ensure that your facility is always clean and disinfected. Does the service provider have methods for self-assessment, regular tracked inspections, and monthly graded rounds that include clinic managers? Do supervisors evaluate their teams’ work?  Will they provide you with frequent reports about their work and the performance of their personnel? Will they look for efficiencies to keep costs under control? Make sure there are regular opportunities for you to provide feedback regarding the service.



Successful infection prevention requires teamwork and communication between the cleaning service and all departments within your clinic. Does the provider stress effective communications with your clinic’s team as well as with patients? Will there be any language barriers? Do the technicians recognize common infection warnings and isolation signage? The professionalism of the service will be reflected in the quality of communication.



One of the best ways to evaluate the quality of a cleaning service is to observe its procedures. Ask which EPA-approved cleaning products they use and how they use them. Do they understand efficacy and dwell time? Do the team members carefully follow instructions on Safety Data Sheets? Do they work top-to-bottom and clean-to-dirty? What are their procedures for handling linens? Being able to properly answer these questions will help you determine the quality of service they will bring to the job.



Your patients, guests and staff all depend on you to provide a clean, safe and healthy environment of care. Any provider should understand and practice safety precautions and have systems in place for consistency. Your staff relies on you to ensure their safety through properly disinfected areas. It is your responsibility to understand what safety precautions the cleaning provider has in place, and ensure they are consistent. Hand hygiene is essential for infection control and prevention. Do they wash properly and often? It is also important that the cleaning team don and doff personal protective equipment (PPE) properly. What procedures are in place to handle hazardous waste and sharps? Ask them to explain their procedures for all of these safety precautions.


Restrooms and High-Touch Areas

Restrooms are high-traffic areas that can harbor billions of unseen pathogens. What specific procedures does the cleaning provider have for restrooms? What measures do they use to all disinfect high-touch surfaces? Will each technician have a list of high-touch surfaces within your facility? Paying careful attention to restrooms and all high-touch surfaces will go a long way toward controlling cross-contamination in your clinic.


Partnering with a highly qualified cleaning service can help keep your clinic safe from the threat of health care acquired illnesses, but be sure to do your homework first. You want high-quality service that meets your high standards because patient and staff safety – as well as the reputation of your clinic – is at stake.


* Steve Zimmerman, MBA, is Director of Healthcare Services for ServiceMaster Clean, one of the nation’s leading providers of professional healthcare cleaning services. He was formerly director of Environmental Services for a nationally recognized children’s hospital in Memphis, Tenn., recognized for six consecutive years by U.S. News and World Report as one of the best children’s hospitals in the nation. Under his leadership, the hospital’s Environmental Services department won numerous awards and achieved very high patient satisfaction scores.

This blog article is a benefit of the UCAOA Corporate Support Partners (CSP) program. Thank you to ServiceMaster Clean, a Silver level CSP.

Tags:  patient safety  practice management  quality  standards 

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