[By Kerri Nettles]
When you’re very sick, you often go to the hospital. But according to the Centers for Disease Control, 1.7 million infections in the U.S. are contracted AFTER people are admitted. Those infections are associated with 99,000 deaths each year. The last thing you expect when you enter a hospital is to get sicker. That’s why these men and women’s training could save your life.
They’re Environmental Services Technicians, skilled workers on the front line helping you recover and get back on your feet. They’re in the halls, in your room, killing potentially dangerous germs and pathogens—preventing contamination. According to the Association for the Health Care Environment, “health care environmental services technicians play an essential role in patients’ experience of care, as well as, ensuring patient safety and satisfaction. Today’s health care environmental services teams strive to go beyond cleaning, disinfecting, and caring for the environment.”
A skilled environmental services team is in such demand, Baptist Health partnered with Goodwill Industries of Arkansas to help train its staff. The program uses a specific curriculum called CHEST (Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Technician), offering nationally recognized credentials.
“We were having trouble finding qualified applicants to fill our environmental services positions, and we had a high turnover. So we reached out to Goodwill to develop a program so they could help us,” Cathy Dickinson of Baptist Health told KARK Channel 4 in an interview last March. “By the time they come to us and actually start their first day of work, they’re so far ahead of someone who did not go through the Goodwill program.”
Applicants come to Goodwill in Little Rock for two weeks of paid training, learning how infections are spread, how to protect patients and maybe one of the most important skills—how to communicate with patients and make their hospital stay as comfortable as possible. Upon completion, they have an opportunity to interview with Baptist Health and possibly begin work at one of their multiple facilities.
Earlette Chism is a graduate of the program.
“I’m looking from the corner to the edges, to high dusting, if the bed’s clean, the bathroom,” Chism told KARK.
Patti Costello with the Association for the Health Care Environment says “healthcare environmental services professionals care for a highly complex, regulated environment where sick people want and need a care environment conducive to recovery and wellness. That very environment plays a key role in customer/patient satisfaction and quality outcomes throughout a patients’ continuum of care. Simply put, healthcare environmental services contribute to saving lives every day.”
If you are interested in becoming an environmental services technician, log onto Baptist-health.com. Scroll to the bottom of the page, click on “careers” and search for “ES tech.”