By Guest Writer - February 03, 2023
The Department of Environmental Services at Moffitt Cancer Center recently celebrated a major milestone. Their 29 team leaders achieved Certified Health Care Environmental Services Technician (CHEST) designation through the Association for the Health Care Environment and the American Hospital Association.
Environmental services technicians are frontline health care workers and the unsung heroes of a patient’s care team. Moffitt recognizes that patient safety and satisfaction start with proper care and maintenance of the health care environment. The Environmental Services technicians’ skills go beyond cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. They create and provide a healing atmosphere that ultimately leads to better outcomes for patients.
“We are beyond proud of our Environmental Services team leaders for achieving the prestigious CHEST designation,” said Tony Sanders, director of Environmental Services. “This is a major step in our continuing efforts to improve patient safety and decrease the risk of health care associated infections.”
Sanders motivated four supervisors and managers, Diana Lallanilla, Evelyn Maldonado, Maria Banuelos and Yoleida Lingo, to earn their CHEST certifications in 2021. A train-the-trainer program, the CHEST certification empowers participants to continue training and certifying their team members. Following the completion of the program, Lallanilla, a training supervisor, developed an instructional course tailored to Moffitt team members.
Learning New Skills to Connect with Patients
To earn the final designation, each Environmental Services team leader completed 24 classroom hours and two months of studying before taking the final exam. To pass the written exam, team leaders were required to demonstrate competence in various critical cleaning procedures and the principles of hospital infection prevention and control.
“There’s immense value in the CHEST certification process,” Sanders added. “Achieving this goal instills a sense of pride in their work and professional accomplishment.”
Not only did Environmental Services team leaders learn the newest disinfection standards, but the curriculum included customer service training so technicians can better engage with the patients and visitors. Within Moffitt’s inpatient units, technicians can feel like family for some patients that are hospitalized for extended periods of time. Training technicians in communication and customer service is a vital part of improving Moffitt’s patient experience.
Above and Beyond
“It’s an astounding achievement for our team,” Sanders said. “It’s a true investment in our team members. This certification demonstrates that we are committed to not only meeting industry standards but exceeding them. Our Environmental Services team goes above and beyond — in best practice standards and patient care.”
Statistics from the Association for the Health Care Environment suggest that hospitals employing CHEST-certified staff see an improved patient experience score by 10%. They have reduced infection rates, including reducing clostridium difficile colitis, a bacterium that causes infection of the colon, by 50% within their facilities. Emphasizing the value of communication and customer service training, these hospitals also saw a 50% increase in the frequency of interactions between Environmental Services and clinical staff.
The Association for the Health Care Environment statistics also show that organizations employing CHEST-certified staff see lower turnover rates. For Environmental Services, providing their team members with educational opportunities like this one is a high priority. Moving forward, CHEST certification is required for all supervisors and above within the department.
“This is just the first step of our ongoing investment in our team members,” said Terrence Wright, vice president of Facilities and Support Services. “We want to recruit the best and brightest for our new hospital and that means investing in educational opportunities. As Moffitt continues to grow, we want our staff to grow with it.”
“Our team is energized and motivated by our first class of CHEST-certified graduates,” Sanders said. “At the end of the day, every team member feels satisfaction seeing a patient discharged from Moffitt while knowing that we did everything we could to help them.”
Guest writer Yoleida Lingo is a manager within Moffitt’s Department of Environmental Services.