Case Study: Five Steps from Sentara Health for Room Cleaning

This member only article appears in the April 2018 issue of Patient Safety Monitor Journal.

Facilities still struggle with infection control, whether it’s hospital floors, fungi on doorknobs, or Legionella in the pipes. And, of course, there’s Clostridium difficile infections, which are among the most frequently reported healthcare-associated infection (HAI) issues. Annually, C. diff infections affect around half a million people and play a role in 29,000 deaths.
Sentara Healthcare is a health system based out of Norfolk, Virginia that is made up of several hospitals, assisted living centers, hospices, and nursing homes. In 2015, Sentara kicked off a project to:

  • Gauge how well it was cleaning patient rooms
  • Determine best practices for environmental services departments (ESD) to reduce C. diff transmission
  • Ensure each room was disinfected the same way each time

To meet its goals, Sentara gathered a multidisciplinary team to create a five-step program:

  • Structured interviews
  • Summit
  • Education and training
  • Competency audits
  • Universal checklists

Using this process, Sentara reduced the number of annual C. diff cases from 368 to 267 between 2015 and 2017. That’s a 27% drop in infections in just two years.
“The process was new because it was the first time we really pulled everyone together to address room cleaning across our system of 12 hospitals,” says Linda Estep, BS, MT (ASCP), CIC, a Sentara Healthcare system manager of infection prevention and control.

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