Straight Talk - "Walking in the shoes"

June 12, 2014

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

NCH has earned many accolades over the past 10 years, and there are 4,000 reasons why. From time-to-time, I like to catch up with some of the 4,000—to follow the people who make the real difference for our patients.

Last week, I tagged along on the downtown campus with Martha Alcantar, one of our 67 wonderful full and part-time downtown environmental service colleagues, as she demonstrated her daily contribution for the patients, visitors, and staff on our 5 South Orthopedic Unit.

Drew Dawson is the downtown Environmental Service Manager and leader of the folks who have among the most important daily responsibilities in our system—infection control. The NCH downtown campus is among the largest and most complicated buildings in Collier County. This building has a capacity for 385 patients, 10 elevators, three standby generators, three huge water coolers for air conditioning, redundant wireless networks for computers, and really complicated plumbing, fire suppression system, electrical system, and walls with doors capable of retarding fire and smoke for hours.

When most people think about keeping a hospital clean, we think first about a facility looking visually pleasing. That’s certainly part of the mandate of our environmental services team. But more important is the task of controlling the spread of infection. Martha, who has had hotel experience, related how she had received two weeks of individual training before being given the responsibility of helping a healthcare system and everyone in the organization lower the chance of infection.

Using three different specially-formulated cleaning products—one for infection control, one for general cleaning and a final one for the floors—and always changing cleaning cloths as she navigated different areas, she made her way around the patient rooms, staff working areas, and public spaces.

With great pride and friendly demeanor, Martha greeted patients and their families, explained why she was there, and what she was there to accomplish. Martha’s routine started with washing her hands, putting on gloves, removing the trash, high dusting, low dusting and wiping counters and other surfaces, cleaning the bathroom, and finally mopping everywhere. She also put out a warning cone about the wet floor and cautioned everyone in the room to stay seated until the floor was completely dry. The whole process takes about 15 minutes per patient room and everyone seemed pleased with the outcome. Isolation rooms take longer due to the need to “gown up and glove up,” and usually the patient appreciates the company, according to Josephine Shields, a registered nurse we met on the orthopedic floor.

At our 325-bed North Naples Hospital, our surgical floors have a complement of 41 equally competent, focused, and dedicated environmental service folks serving our patients.

Martha and environment services exemplify the many varied and important tasks and responsibilities that distinguish NCH as the hospital that cares for more than 73% of all hospital patients in Collier County. Working with and spending time “walking in the shoes” of these folks who make a difference is my pleasure and privilege. By the way, Martha also “floats” to different locations in the system and mentioned she saw my office and commended me for keeping it so clean. Coming from a true professional like her, I take that as a real compliment!


Allen S. Weiss, M.D., President and CEO

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