Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hospital Cleaning Services vs Commercial Cleaning Services

Recently I was at a Chamber of Commerce function and someone asked me about the difference between cleaning an office and hospital cleaning or cleaning a medical facility.

To best answer this question the first thing we need to establish is what is clean? And the truth is that it depends. “Clean” in an office is different than “clean” in a hospital. “But why?” you say. “Isn’t there a universally applicable standard of clean?” Well… yes and no.

Fundamentally cleaning has two purposes: to make a space look nice (to turn disorder into order – akin to pushing a reset button) and to reduce the “bio load” on a surface. Bio load is a fancy way to describe the dust, dirt and grime (i.e. the organic material) that accumulates. Normally, some of this you can see (obvious dust and dirt) and some of this is only perceptible through a microscope. If you do a swab test in an office or home you are likely to find soils from the outdoor environment, as well as human skin and bacteria from human nasal cavities and other orifices.

Since an office tends to have a lower level of traffic, and this of primarily healthy individuals, it isn’t necessary to clean using the same methods and procedures one would in a medical facility. Cleaning commercially centers on making a space look presentable, removing dirt, and maintaining surfaces (e.g. such as carpet, tile, and vinyl flooring) so that they stay in good repair. Pathogens tend to collect on high-touch surfaces such as doors and telephone receivers so it is important to regularly disinfect these, especially during flu season.

A hospital or medical facility, on the other hand, is bombarded by an enormous quantity and variety of pathogens on a daily basis because, after all, the primary function of these facilities is to serve sick people. Thus, reducing the bioload on a surface and eliminating pathogens in a medical facility, is a preeminent and on-going focus. Patient care rooms are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected on a daily basis and/or every time a patient is discharged. Patient care equipment that is reusable is generally sterilized. In addition, housekeeping staff are constantly making rounds throughout the day removing trash and soiled linen and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, including:
- faucet handles
- light switches
- bed rails
- nurse call buttons
- over-bed and bedside tables
- foot boards on beds
- remote controls
- telephones
- drinking faucets
- call buttons in elevators

The need for proper and frequent disinfection is most vital in areas like the Intensive Care and Isolation units because these patients tend to have immune systems that have already been severely compromised by infections or accidents. The Emergency Room is another high-risk area for infection because it is a major admitting center for a hospital and patients have not been separated yet based on their condition or type of illness.

Regardless of the unit they are serving in, it is important for the head of Hospital Cleaning (also known as Environmental Services) to stay in close contact with the hospital’s infection control officer to make sure that the products they are using have a kill claim that encompasses the full range of pathogens that may be present in the facility. We also use Westlaw to stay abreast of the latest changes in State regulations.
Most facilities will fall somewhere on this office to hospital continuum in terms of stringency and purpose of cleaning.

Company : Swiss Cleaning Services
Address : 7119 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90046
Phone : (323)744-7170

11 Questions to Ask When Selecting a Janitorial Service

I have learned from my many years of experience in the janitorial services industry that all too often customers don’t ask enough questions of prospective janitorial vendors. People tend to hire a firm based on price, get burned because of poor service, and repeat the process again and again.

If companies changed the way they hire firms, this wouldn’t keep happening. Most customers have become resigned to the fact that they won’t get good service and have very low expectations. I believe this resignation stems from the fact that people don’t understand the importance of hiring wisely. It is not their fault because most firms look, smell and sound professional.
Selecting a janitorial firm is the same as hiring a C-level manager. Hiring the wrong person can have a major impact on your company. Why? Because janitorial firms are responsible for the presentation, safety and security of your building and its occupants.

A facility that isn’t properly cleaned can lead to a whole host of problems. If you are a property manager, your tenants may cite it as a breach of contract and break their lease. If you run a hospital or medical facility, a representative from the State can drop by at any time to do a compliance audit. If you oversee a school, you know that it must be clean to please parents and keep student sick days to a minimum. If you work in a commercial building, a dirty office can leave a negative impression on customers.
In addition to cleanliness, it is essential that you trust the company that you’ve selected. Your cleaning crew has access to desks and other valuables, not to mention the fact that if they clean at night, they are responsible for locking doors and setting alarms. Doors left unlocked can cause major liability issues.

So, what can you do?
Ask the right questions up front to avoid problems down the road. If you open the phone book and see listings for 700 firms, you should only be getting two to three bids if you take the time to ask the right questions. If you are receiving five to seven bids, you’re not asking the right questions. Think about it. Just because a company can provide you with a bid does not mean they will do a good job. That’s like saying that anyone that walks into your office with a resume is a great fit for your company. Asking the right questions will help ensure that you’re working with who you want to work with and putting an end to the “revolving door” syndrome. Start with the ones I’ve listed here and add additional questions as you see fit:

Employee experience
1. How are they hiring people?
2. What are the training requirements for their workers?
3. Do they offer their employees opportunities to receive specialized training or certification?
4. If so, what are the requirements for recertification?

Customer Service
5. What customer service systems do they have in place?
6. How and when would they be communicating with you (e.g. phone, email, in-person)?
7. Are you able to contact them when you need to? (A lot of janitorial work is done at night so it can be difficult to contact self-employed vendors in the morning.)
Think about whether you are strictly interested in purchasing a commodity (i.e. having your building cleaned) or if you also want some level of customer service to accompany that. The old saying “Quality, price or service…choose one” rings loud and clear here. You will get what you pay for.

8. How frequently do they bill? Are they able to do a 30 or 45 day net?
9. Do they accept credit card? Electronic transfer funds (ETF)?
A lot of small firms don’t have the necessary systems in place to be able to take ETF or don’t have the cash flow to be able to float payroll for 45 days.  Your billing preferences may affect what size company is the best fit for you.

10. Do they carry liability insurance and what are their coverage limits?
 11. Do they have workers comp insurance coverage for their employees?
Even though the employees of your janitorial company are technically not your responsibility, you could be held liable if the company is treating its workers unethically and a court deems that you were aware of the situation.

Suggestions for Interviewing Potential Vendors
1. Hold a group briefing for potential bidders about what is required for the job.
 2. Tell potential vendors they need to come in with questions. If a vendor can’t ask you detailed questions about what you expect in terms of service deliverables, communication requirements, billing, etc., they shouldn’t be considered.
3. If you will be hiring a day porter or if your Los Angeles janitorial crew will be interacting with your customers (e.g. tenants, patients, etc.), you might want to consider doing a DISC profile assessment on the staff that will be in your building.
4. Ask for at least 3 references. Better yet, ask to visit some of their locations.
Bottom line: Make sure a potential janitorial provider has to jump through a certain number of hoops before they are even allowed do a walk-through of your facility.
Customers change the marketplace based on what they want. Maybe I’m naive in believing that customers want great service. Maybe people only want the lowest price for a passable service. In that case, having detailed selection criteria would be pointless. However, from my sales days I remember that customers were looking for consistency, value, communication and honesty. I’m assuming that you too are looking for these things. If so, by asking the right questions you will get what you want. Good luck out there…

Company : Swiss Cleaning Services
Address : 7119 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90046
Phone : (323)744-7170
Website :