I’m proud to announce that a significant honor has arrived for the Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland.
It’s for MCR leading the nation for hospital cleanliness.
The recognition comes from VHA, a nationwide network of 1,400 community-owned hospitals and health care systems. As an important part of the recognition, VHA designated MCR’s excellent housekeeping methods as a Blueprint Leading Practice.
Four of MCR's housekeepers: Dutch Fla Havhan, Mike Grounds, Rick Ramirez, and Sharon Jennings
This means the housekeeping methods used at MCR will be the role model other hospitals can learn from to improve their own services. The information on MCR’s methods for cleaning and for readying patient rooms will soon be detailed on VHA’s website.
This is a tremendous recognition and honor for MCR’s housekeeping staff and others who assist in maintaining patient rooms and the rest of the hospital.
To tell you how MCR reached this enviable position, I’d like to step into the past to a decade and a half ago when a new trend quietly slipped into the hospital industry. This brief journey to the past will give you a perspective of how things have changed for the better in our industry.
Back in those days, hospitals came to realize that patients and their families weren’t impressed with room cleanliness, directional efforts to help patients find in-hospital departments and—yes, this one is the foundation of many jokes across the country—hospital food.
In other words, dirty patient rooms, easy to get lost and lousy food!
At the time (and this is still true), competition was strong among the nation’s hospitals, especially in communities where two or more hospitals were located. Using research and focus groups, hospitals learned that for many patients the amenities offered by a hospital were almost as important as the quality of care.
So many hospitals went the route of the luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotels: spruce up the look and quality of facilities and offer world-class customer service … and, yes, provide tasty food.
In the hospital industry, the goal became this: Offer amenities that help attract patients to your hospital rather than your competitors.
Back then, Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins was the only hospital in the Poudre Valley Health System. Even though little direct hospital competition existed then, PVH’s leaders stepped up and decided to the right thing to do for patients and their families was to improve amenities.
The hospital launched a hotel-like concierge service and free valet parking service. PVH significantly upgraded its cafeteria into a more appealing café format, redesigned patient rooms from semi- to private rooms, developed family-friendly birthing rooms, improved food quality and broadened menu selections, and, among other successful endeavors, placed a heavy emphasis on maintaining cleanliness by employing high-quality housekeeping staff members.
The latter step—having housekeepers on the staff—is an important point.
Back then (and even today), many hospitals farmed out housekeeping services to private companies. The outcome was less than appealing for the patients of many hospitals—that is to say, patient rooms and other areas were not maintained with high standards for cleanliness. As a result, the issue of upgrading the cleanliness of patient rooms and hospitals landed on the national radar for regulatory agencies.
PVH, though, believed in the high quality of its housekeeping staff and steadily maintained its in-house services. As time and service have revealed, this was the correct move. The quality efforts of PVH’s housekeeping staff continue to receive exceedingly high scores in our ongoing patient satisfaction surveys conducted by an outside agency.
When planning was underway in 2006 for our 136-bed Medical Center of the Rockies that would be built and opened in 2007 in Loveland, leaders of this incoming regional hospital reviewed the success of PVH’s in-house housekeeping staff and decided to follow suit by employing housekeepers rather than contracting services to private companies.
This was definitely the winning strategy. The success of MCR’s housekeeping staff and others involved in readying rooms for incoming patients has been proven time and again by high patient satisfaction scores.
VHA makes its Blueprint selections based upon the results of surveys of Medicare and Medicaid patients treated at hospitals. VHA evaluates hospitals by looking at the survey answer “Always” when patients are given options to describe if the patient rooms and bathrooms in a hospital are always, sometimes or never kept clean.
MCR has the highest percentage of patient satisfaction with cleanliness and leads hospitals in Colorado and throughout the nation.
Once a potential Blueprint candidate is identified, VHA representatives make an on-site visit and interview nurses, nursing aides, environmental health employees, and others to learn about a work process.
So the MCR recognition resulted not only from the feedback from patients, but also from a thorough onsite inspection.
Here’s a look at the work process related to cleaning patient rooms:
Unlike the layout of rooms in most hospitals, MCR patient rooms were purposely designed so in-room linen and supply storage areas are out of the patient’s direct sight. In most hospitals, a patient room’s storage closet for supplies is typically within the direct eyesight of a patient and visitors. We believe, though, that a patient needs to concentrate on getting well, not on having to look at cleaning supplies and linen.
Housekeepers work closely with the nursing staff, patient service representatives and staff members in charge of admitting and discharging patients. As a patient is discharged from the hospital, a network of communication is rapidly rolled out to alert everyone that a room is vacated and needs cleaning so it is available for the next inpatient.
The process is so finely honed that housekeepers enter a room within 10 minutes after a patient departs and, on average, have the room cleaned and ready for the next occupant in an average of 26 minutes. This is an incredibly short period of time to scrub down and sanitize a room, change linens and perform the many other required tasks. But the housekeepers always do a marvelous job!
As with many success stories in the world today, MCR’s success has come through team work; employee initiative and dedication; careful planning and execution of a process; and the commitment to high-quality services by employees and the organization.
I’d like to heartily congratulate and thank the housekeepers at MCR, as well as all of the housekeepers throughout PVHS, for keeping our hospitals and clinics at a high level of cleanliness. Their efforts continue to soar into the world-class realm. Their dedication and work skills enhance the fine reputation of our health system, but, most importantly, they greatly benefit our patients.
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