EVS: The Unsung Hero of Infection Prevention
It’s 3 AM in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). I am holding my premature 4-pound baby on my chest in the same rocking chair I have sat in for the past several days. It’s dark, quiet and lonely. The days have melted together as my constant focus remains over this tiny human. Suddenly, there is a quiet knock on the door and a worker appears apologizing profusely and explaining he is there to empty the trash and wipe down certain surfaces. He is kind, considerate, sympathetic, and the first human besides the amazing NICU nurses that I have seen in days. I thank him as I try to move all the cords attached to my infant out of his way. He tells me he has been an Environmental Services (EVS) worker for over 20 years and that he is proud to work in the NICU and knows his work is invaluable to protecting these very vulnerable babies. Not knowing my background, he talks to me about how important cleaning and disinfecting is in preventing the spread of pathogens in the hospital. The pride visible on his masked face is evident. Working the night shift, I wonder how lonely he must be and how few people get to fully appreciate all he is doing to protect their children.
EVS workers are in every healthcare facility across the United States. Those outside of healthcare, often incorrectly use the term “housekeeping” and “janitor” to describe these workers, but in healthcare, they are so much more. EVS professionals are highly trained in disinfection practices against contagious pathogens, such as C. difficile and MRSA, and in cleaning complex medical equipment. During the pandemic, their role became even more critical as we were still learning about the SARS-CoV-2 virus and how it was spread. EVS personnel are often underappreciated and not recognized for their shared responsibility to help prevent healthcare-associated infections from spreading on surfaces by prioritizing high-risk areas, and following guidelines for cleaning and disinfection.1,2,3
According to the Association for the Health Care Environment (AHE):
“Environmental Services Week is a time to show appreciation for the dedicated EVS personnel that ensure healthcare facilities across the country are clean, safe places for patients, their families and other staff members. With all the challenges and changes the last few years have brought, these staff members have remained resilient in their efforts to protect others from dangerous pathogens.”
At Clorox, we want to take this week to show our appreciation for the EVS professionals protecting not only countless patients throughout the United States, but also our babies, mothers, fathers, and vulnerable family members. Their tireless efforts keep healthcare facilities safe for all of us!
As Pinnacle Corporate Champion Sponsors of AHE, we have partnered with their team to develop educational tools and training videos to help EVS professionals succeed. These training videos, developed by the CloroxPro Clinical and Scientific Affairs team, highlight critical aspects of cleaning and disinfection in the healthcare environment.
In Research and Development, we are also developing and designing products with EVS in mind. Our ready-to-use wipes allow workers to cover more surfaces with fewer wipes, saving time while still meeting the appropriate contact kill times to ensure dangerous pathogens are not putting patients at risk.
To all the EVS workers out there — we support you and give our thanks for all you do!
1. Ni K, Chen B, et al. Knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding environmental cleaning among environmental service workers in Chinese hospitals. Am J Infect Control [Internet]. 2017 [Cited September 5, 2023]; 45(9):1043‐1045. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28343703/
2. Bernstein D, Salsgiver E, Simon MS, et al. Knowledge, attitudes, and practices of environmental service workers related to environmental cleaning and healthcare‐associated infections (HAI). Open Forum Infect Dis [Internet]. 2015 [Cited September 5, 2023]; 2(suppl 1): S466. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/ofid/article/2/suppl_1/1711/2634325
3. Ream PS, Tipple AF, Salgado TA, et al. Hospital housekeepers: victims of ineffective hospital waste management. Arch Environ Occup Health [Internet]. 2016 [Cited September 5, 2023]; 71(5):273‐280. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26359679/