Champion cleaning - it’s contagious!

7th of May 2019 Article by Lotte Printz
Champion cleaning - it’s contagious!

Four hospitals in Aarhus, Denmark have been merged. Lotte Printz met up with the cleaning team to see how it's impacting on them.

In December 2018 Aarhus University Hospital was appointed Denmark's best hospital in the category of highly specialised hospitals for the eleventh year running. In a time when beds have been closed, costs reduced and the hospital, situated in Skejby, an Aarhus suburb, has undergone gigantic construction work to prepare for the merged hospital activities of the three hospitals in Aarhus and the city's psychiatric hospital, effective as of March this year, that is quite an achievement.

An honour that couldn't have been bestowed on the hospital without the work done by orderlies and the cleaning staff, the management acknowledges.

Lone Gabel, controller in the hospital cleaning and service unit, will not, however, settle for a first place on a national scale when it comes to cleaning. She doesn't mind proclaiming that the hospital should be European champion in the cleaning department operated by an in-house cleaning unit and an external facility service partner. A non-existent championship, but the attitude is contagious
she believes.

"The system works well for both parties and I'm over the moon with satisfaction with what we deliver every day. We promote ourselves by saying: ‘we make a difference'," Gabel says.

Nevertheless, once in a while, she still overhears some of the 825 or so cleaners, who also undertake other non-medical work as orderlies, saying: "But we're just cleaners!"

"No, you are not. You make a huge difference and this hospital wouldn't function without you, is what we then tell them. Research shows that the more we clean, the lower the risk of infections spreading. A virus can knock down a hospital in a nanosecond," Gabel says.

According to a 2018 study by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, 8.9 million people contract infections in European hospitals and healthcare centres each year. Combatting all hospital-acquired infections through cleaning, is a "wild-goose chase". But the right cleaning should keep the risk at an absolute minimum.

Government funding to clean properly is vital. The other key words to ensure high standards of cleaning in a huge hospital like this are, in Lone Gabel's opinion, monitoring and control. Visible control. At Aarhus University Hospital they clean in compliance with Nordic quality standard INSTA 800 and the national guidelines for prevention of hospital-acquired infections that regulate how and how often a room must be cleaned. And Lone Gabel does daily random control rounds at the hospital herself.

For the past 10 years, she and her colleagues in the cleaning department have faced extra challenges, however, with construction work taking place. Even though doors into the open hospital have been hermetically sealed, a construction site is still "dirty business", which can be fatal in a hospital.

"Almost 300,000 extra square metres have been built and the largest part of that had to be cleaned clinically - not just once, but three to five times. The biggest challenge we've had is making sure the builders did NOT enter the premises after a clinical clean. If they did, we had to clean it all over again," Gabel explains.

More construction work will follow, but Lone Gabel is relieved the major part is over.

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