Environmental Services Director Deanna Hall has a saying that exemplifies the direction she gives her staff: “Cleanliness matters.”
“Most people come into a hospital, and if the environment is not clean, they automatically think the service is not good,” says Deanna, who has a background in military contract Quality Assurance. “If you come in and the facility is not up to standards, you’re not going to feel good about the treatment. Cleanliness is so significant.”
Deanna manages a staff of about 70, at more than a dozen LVMC facilities, operating 24 hours a day. Her crews in their teal-colored scrubs are not only ever-present at the acute hospital and Comprehensive Care Center, but they’re also processing all the district’s laundry from equipment at the Champion Center. They’re responsible for the cleanliness at the Hematology-Oncology building, in the Sleep Center, at the Foundation and Electronic Medical Records houses, in the CCC training building, at the Lompoc Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) House, and more.
In her dozen years with LVMC, Deanna sought and received, a name change for her staff from “Housekeeping” to Environmental Services.
“The hospital cannot operate without Environmental Services,” says the daughter of a school teacher and engineer. “We are the police for sanitizing and sterilizing. If you are to reach for the highest goals, you have to have steps and measures and training in place to keep these standards.”
In her job, the biggest enemy is omnipresent bacteria.
“You can’t see it with the naked eye,” says Deanna, who was previously Assistant Project Manager at Vandenberg for housing, maintenance, and janitorial contracts. “The only way to ensure you’re not picking up bacteria is to ensure the facility is clean and sterilized thoroughly. Cross-contamination is a big factor in health care.”
Because of that, EVS checks sanitation stations throughout the facilities, stocked with sanitizer, face masks and tissues. Bathrooms are cleaned every hour. Everything is designed to cut down on hospital-acquired infections.
One of the most critical tasks for her EVS staff is what’s known as a “terminal clean” to rooms when a patient is discharged or transferred. She believes LVMC is the only hospital in the nation to conduct ceiling-to-floor disinfection and cleaning with each discharge. Whereas some hospitals do a terminal clean of surgical suites on a rotating basis each week, LVMC’s EVS crews do the cleaning daily. Every cleaning tool, such as mops and cloths, are changed for every room. The room dividing curtains are removed for each terminal clean and replaced with a fresh curtain.
“We break down any type of equipment that can be broken down to ensure we get into every area,” she says. “Nothing can replace a physical person who can open up a drawer, pull back layers, look behind things, move things, to ensure we are getting to all those areas where bacteria can hide. The only way to make sure we stay one step ahead is to make sure we are looking at the entire environment, and not just one piece of equipment, or one room or one shelf. As germs get smarter, we work harder.”