Healthcare Services
Infection Prevention: The New Standard of Clean
Jeff Paulson
Jeff Paulson
CEO, Healthcare,
Sodexo North America

Professional cleaning isn’t just about cleaning restrooms and mopping floors anymore; today’s Environmental Services teams must focus on preventing the spread of illness and infection.

In our ever-shrinking world, we’ve seen infectious pathogens travel even more quickly from person to person. Organisms like MRSA and VRE have been created by overuse and incorrect use of antibiotics, and outbreaks like Ebola and Zika spread quickly due to increased global travel. Many of these pathogens can live on surfaces like tables, counters, door handles, computers and tools, where they can pass from person to person.

Combating the spread of these pathogens requires a paradigm shift to an environmental infection control mindset. “Visibly clean,” which has long been the acceptable performance standard, is no longer good enough. These new, threatening germs and pathogens that can exist on an apparently clean surface for weeks or even months, surfaces must not only look clean, but be clean. Ineffective manual cleaning can simply spread harmful pathogens around.

Today, cleaning a site must involve sophisticated and aggressive infection control systems that eradicate germs on high-touch surfaces. Because pathogens don’t discriminate, everyone is at risk. It’s critical that the right people, processes and technologies are employed to provide a comprehensive interconnected solution.

Approximately 85 percent of cleaning cost is labor. Many times, the only way to achieve a client’s desired cost reduction and secure the business is to eliminate staff, creating a “race to the bottom” situation. Sodexo doesn’t subscribe to that philosophy. We believe there is a different way to reach your goals with fair prices and better outcomes. By implementing standardized processes leveraging best-in-class technologies, clients can recapture time and reach the desired quicker room turns, but not at the expense of health and safety.


In response to this ever-increasing threat and the severe consequences on your business and patients’ health, environmental infection control strategies must change just as swiftly to keep pace. People must be highly trained both in how behaviors speed the spread of pathogens and which processes attack the problem head on.


While the healthcare industry has made incredible advances in medicine and medical equipment over the years, Environmental Services technologies selected and implemented by hospitals haven’t kept pace. The technology necessary to keep pathogens at bay changes so rapidly that last week’s industry leading approach is indeed yesterday’s news. No quick fix or single solution to combat pathogens exists; rather, environmental services organizations must be constantly on alert for new technologies and the best ways to implement them.

These cleaning techniques are crucial in hospitals and other health facilities, where patients bring pathogens daily. However, high-traffic sites such as hotels and cruise ships have also proven vulnerable to the spread of infection.

Do you have concerns about infection control in your workplace? Tell us how you prevent the spread of germs in the comments below.

4 comments on “Infection Prevention: The New Standard of Clean

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    Jeanne Fisher says:

    I supplement the current Sodexo learning modules with a certification from the American Hospital Association and the Association for the Healthcare Environment, certifying front line staff in all aspects of cleaning, waste removal, patient satisfaction and infection prevention. The Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Technician (CHEST) is a 24 hour course with an online exam to become certified. It empowers the frontline staff with the knowledge they need to do their job correctly, every time. Currently, out of 59 employees, I have 16 certified with another 13 scheduled to begin classes on the 23rd of this month.

  • Avatar
    Brett Frasier says:

    As a facility manager I find your comments and perspectives hit home. Cutting staffing to save costs is not the answer. Training and technology is only a part of the solution. EVS needs to be a place that people will work at as a career and not just a job that they do until a better one comes along. It always a great feeling when you get someone that has an aptitude, and likes serving our customers. If you mentor them, and give them small important leadership opportunities, they flourish and grow into future leaders. Training needs to be ongoing and interactive, not just a computer training module. I like to bring in vendors and we buy donuts. I require our vendors to provide an interactive training that might only take an hour, but everyone participates that is in the class. It lets me see how people think and do their work without it being a live situation. and our vendors usually have these types of programs available within their company and it is free. It can be worked into a shift easily.

    Please continue to share your perspectives and concerns with us. I am always feeling that we are defined by what our client wants and not by what is the correct solution. When our leadership is firmly behind us with the same philosophy it gives us confidence to approach them about different approaches in completing our duties.

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    Joycelyn Jones says:

    Are all Sodexo Environmental Services techs required to follow the same cleaning processes using the same cleaning chemicals/solutions no matter what contract they’re employed? If so where can I find updated training manual or materials, quizzes, and videos for training classes?


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