EXPLORE - Fall 2016 - 22
WHAT ARE HEALTHCARE
RESTROOMS TELLING US?
By Mitch Birchfield
ublic or common area healthcare restrooms need to be
thoroughly cleaned and
disinfected for user
health (due to infection
potential on high-touch
surfaces) and use touch-less technologies to limit the number of touch
point variables and to maximize the
effectiveness of cleaning and disinfecting. But they also should be specifically
identified and targeted for clean tests and
routinely disinfected using supplemental
UV light technologies.
Hospital restrooms' high-touch areas
(HTOs) include doorknobs, sink and toilet handles, the toilet seat, handrails,
commodes, paper and soap dispensers.
Although restroom floors are not hightouch surfaces, they are prone to gross
contamination from such things as urine,
dirt, and excessive moisture.
Touch-free devices don't mean that
fixtures are not touched; in fact, sensors
on faucets and dispensers don't always
activate properly-this means that faucets heads, spigots, and stainless steel
including sensors may be contaminated.
Additional problems occur with automation; sensors are placed so that flushing
occurs much more often than it should
or when no one is around. Improperly
loaded paper towel dispensers can
also be a source of great consternation.
Environmental service staffs are rarely
asked for their opinions on restroom
For environmental services staffs,
cleaning and disinfecting restrooms is
overall considered to be one of the toughest areas for service staff to maintain, and
paper supply products for dispensers can
22 www.ahe.org I EXPLORE I Fall 2016
represent up to 25 percent of an environmental services department budget.
Why focus on public or
common restrooms versus
The sheer volume of uses in public
healthcare restrooms means that surfaces
and fixtures can be contaminated, clean and
then re-contaminated throughout the day.
Whoever uses the public/common area
restroom can contaminate up to seven of
the restroom's high-touch points. which, if
not cleaned (and disinfected), can pass an
infection to the next user.
Three considerations for
cleaning and servicing healthcare
1) Technology Is Simply a Tool to Make
Decisions: First is the understanding
that restroom technology is a convenience for the users. It isn't a panacea
for making bathrooms cleaner, and
logs and indicator tags such as the
Awarepoint can be used to alert service
staff that bathrooms need attention,
and how often certain bathrooms are
calling out or alerting us may mean
that greater frequencies are needed
to service the restrooms, or that the
dispensers may be undersized, restrooms vandalized, or paper products
removed or stolen.
2) Ramp Up to Using Sporicidal
Disinfectants: For years, healthcare
facilities have used quaternary disinfectants as "approved disinfectants" vetted
by environmental services and infection control professionals as being sufficient to kill most potential infectious
materials on surfaces and also safe for
surfaces. But the increasing incidence
of bacterial and viral infections such as
C. diff, MRSA and norovirus has made
healthcare professionals re-assess their
cleaning chemical programs.
3) Use Resources Wisely-Restroom
Service Logs versus Testing and
UVing: Do restroom logs offer assurances that restrooms are well maintained and cleaned? Or are they
primarily a customer visual satisfaction
tool? In large healthcare facilities, highvolume public restrooms can number
over 100, making it a challenge to keep
the communications (initial cleanings)
current. Additionally, the log becomes
of little value if, after cleaning, a customer forgets to flush the toilet, fills up
the trash or sanitary napkin container,
or throws paper (toilet or towels) on
the floor. In those circumstances, as a
Harris poll indicated, customers would
view the restroom as dirty; 90, 89, and
80 percent respectively.
A better approach may be to test healthcare restroom surfaces for cleanliness more
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of EXPLORE - Fall 2016
Message From the AHE President
Healthcare Field Rises to Challenge as Environment Changes
We Are Environmental Services
What Are Healthcare Restrooms Telling Us?
Meet a T-Chest
The FAHE Journey
EXPLORE - Fall 2016