Island Hospital is taking steps to make sure higher-use areas get extra attention during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to April Carlson, hospital Environmental Services Department director.
The department handles sanitizing all locations on the hospital campus and has staff working 24/7, using CDC and OSHA guidelines for cleaning and uses approved cleansers, not bleach, Carlson said.
Those normally assigned to departments that are now closed as nonessential have been reassigned to other areas, she said.
“They take our patients’ safety personally,” Carlson said of the staff.
One way to test cleanliness is an ATP meter — sort of a technical white-glove test — already used in the hospital prior to the pandemic. The cleaner swabs a surface and tests the swab in a handheld device. The device reads how much organic material is on a surface, even if it can’t be seen.
Keeping the hospital as clean as possible and preventing the spread of COVID-19 is a way staff is making sure its patients are comfortable using the facility, hospital CEO Charles Hall said.
“We want people to know they are safe when they visit their doctor here,” he said.
The hospital is also preparing and putting safety protocols into place so that it can start back up its nonessential services once it gets the go-ahead from the governor.
As of right now, Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order ends Monday, May 4. Hall said he is hoping that Inslee will release more directions for health care facilities before then.
Until then, the hospital continues to see patients in its respiratory clinic and to operate all the services it can.
If everyone takes precautions in their own homes, it can also stop the spread of the virus, he said.
Carlson offered advice for people who want to implement better cleaning procedures in their own homes.— Use neutral cleansers, which should have something printed on the front about being able to kill human coronavirus, Carlson said. Bleach is not necessary.
— Routinely clean areas that are accessed by many different members of the family, like doorknobs, telephones and lightswitches.
— Clean a room from top to bottom to avoid brushing anything onto a place that was already cleaned.
And of course, wash hands frequently and avoid touching the face.
“It’s been said before, but that really is the best way to prevent this virus,” Carlson said.