Healthcare’s Secret Heroes (It’s Not Who You Might Think)

Doctor's hand in blue surgical glove showing thumbs up signFew people look forward to going to the hospital. However, even though no one wants to go to the hospital, the reality is that’s where miracles happen and lives are saved… and, more often than not, a place where your experience is far more positive than your expectations (or fears).

A patient’s experience during a hospital stay is largely defined by his or her doctors and nurses, or so it may seem. The RNs and M.D.s are, in fact, only the most visible members of a much larger team of caregivers. While those in scrubs and lab coats get most of the credit, your experience as a patient depends upon the entire team (and starts before you even arrive at the hospital).

The truth is patient care starts with the basics, namely cleanliness. The entire hospital, from entryways to elevators to patient rooms, must be clean and free of any contaminants that might put the public or the patients in jeopardy. Doctors and nurses can’t do their job unless they’re working in a safe, clean environment. They can’t save lives without help from another hard-working team.

diane-esThe Hospital’s (Secret) Superheroes
The housekeeping staff are the hospital heroes who are responsible for many aspects of a patient’s experience and are an important part of the team, working behind the scenes. From cleaning and sanitizing waiting rooms to easing a patient’s mind with a friendly conversation while cleaning their room, housekeeping is what can make or break a hospital’s reputation.

Beyond reputation, the housekeeping team also plays a major role in the life-saving work that goes on within a hospital. Unlike the hospitality industry, whose reputation also relies heavily on housekeeping, cleanliness at the hospital is of life or death importance. You go to the hospital to get well. The housekeeping team ensures the tools, equipment, and spaces the doctors and nurses use are disinfected and sanitized, preventing infection or other complications that might keep you checked-in longer than you wish.

MarioThe Role of Housekeeping in a Hospital
In simple terms, a housekeeping team takes care to make the hospital environment—including everything from the entryway, stairwells, hallways and patient rooms—feel as clean, comfortable and safe as possible.

At hospitals with positive reputations for overall patient satisfaction, housekeeping staff are often empowered to take ownership over the patient experience. Though the job description might include things like changing linens and cleaning bathrooms, housekeeping staff often go above and beyond by “doing the little things” that  greatly enhance a patient’s experience.

For example, while mopping a patient’s floor, a member of the housekeeping staff may notice a patient is missing a pillow and offer to bring them a new one. He might also notice in another patient’s room that the air temperature seems a bit cold and makes a call to the maintenance team to check out the heating system. These details add up over the course of a patient’s stay, giving the housekeeping team a big role in the end-to-end healthcare experience.

wet-floor-sign

Great patient care starts with great housekeeping. This is no secret inside hospital walls, but the team responsible for the basic safety of each patient rarely gets the recognition it deserves from outside observers. Still, there’s something fitting about that lack of public recognition, as no one in the healthcare industry is there for their own ego. No, they are there because they want to use their talents to serve others. A hospital’s housekeeping staff lives out that mission of improving health, enriching life every single day to the great benefit of the patients in their care.

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