MedWatch Today: Certification Program for Community Health System’s Environmental Services Technicians

Med Watch Today

Environmental services technicians make sure our hospitals are clean and safe. Their role is even more important now with the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The technicians at Community Health System now have the opportunity to get nationally certified through the Association for the Healthcare Environment, confirming their knowledge of hospital sanitation best practices, and allowing them to get promoted within the department.

The role of an environmental services technician bears great responsibility. Clovis Community Medical Centers’ EVS manager Casey Jenson explains.

“We look at cleaning two different ways. We want to make sure the things that you see with your eyes look neat and organized and clean… The second way we clean is having to do with disinfecting the environment that we’re taking care of patients in… Our job is to follow a standardized process of cleaning, so that we cover every surface to make sure that we’re disinfecting where those pathogens were, to limit the risk of causing other people to become sick,” said Casey.

Lupe Garza is an EVS team leader at Clovis Community. She said, “When I train somebody, I always tell them to clean as if their family member was going to be here.”

Casey said Community Health System now offers the national certification program for their technicians.

She explained, “It is a national certification through AHE, which is the Association for the Healthcare Environment. And what it is, is it’s Certified Environmental Services Technician training. It is a ten week course that our technicians go through. They have classes every single week. And in those classes they learn what it means to be an environment services technician working in healthcare.”

The Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Technician (CHEST) program covers all aspects of a frontline worker’s typical tasks and accountabilities, and helps EVS techs know which chemicals to use to sanitize against certain pathogens. After the ten week course, the technicians take a pass or fail test, and then they are certified.

Joanna Vasquez is an EVS team leader at Community Regional Medical Center. She was one of 11 team leaders who went through the first round of training and testing, and she’s now one of about 5,000 certified in the U.S.

“The hardest part, I think, it was just studying and performing, working too, because we had to go to work and then do our classes for four hours; it was hard but we did it,” stated Joanna.

Lupe added, “The test, it was nerve wracking, but it was pretty simple because like I said, we knew it; we knew the information, and we had great teachers, went over every information, gave us all our notes that we needed.”

Both women passed their test and look forward to growth within the Community Health System.

“It was a good learning experience because it reinforced what I already knew, and now I can pass it on to my coworkers,” ended Joanna.

Casey said the certification allows technicians to get promoted to team leader, supervisor, or manager, which is an incentive for staff retention and morale.

She concluded, “It shows our staff that we want them to grow. It shows that we believe that they can do the work that it takes to match a national level of best practices, and it makes me proud that we can do that as our organization, as part of our organization… This identifies and highlights for them how much they actually know and what they do to contribute to a safe patient care experience.”

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