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Downstate Times

The Newsletter for SUNY Downstate
University Hospital of Brooklyn

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ISSUE 13 star AUGUST 2013


Tac Teams:
An Innovative Approach to Cleaning Operations

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Teamwork. Shown from l. to r: Benigno Rodriguez, cleaner (Tac Team); Ezekiel M. Bey-Rentas, director of Environmental Services; Wayne Watson, cleaner (Tac Team); and Robert A. Richards, senior associate administrator.


Patient safety and care thrive in an environment that supports teamwork. At Downstate, Environmental Services (ES ) is an essential part of the healthcare team. With miles of corridors and surfaces to clean and disinfect, ES staff have one of the most challenging jobs in the hospital. Not only are they on the front lines of infection control; they are also key to promoting patient satisfaction. Perception of cleanliness is one of the areas that frequently elicits comment on patient satisfaction surveys.

Toward this end, ES recently launched two new initiatives. First, it revised and distributed routine cleaning schedules. Now, administrative offices and other parts of the hospital that do not require the same level of stringent daily maintenance as patient areas know when services will be provided.

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The Tac Team approach was a good decision. Working together as a team, we can accomplish far more and better than we ever could before.

ES also introduced a tactical team approach to cleaning operations. Known as Tac Teams for short, ES staff are crosstrained and deployed on an "as needed" basis so that critical operations, such as prepping a room for a newly admitted patient, can be done swiftly and efficiently.

ES Director Ezekiel Bey-Rentas explains that these changes have helped streamline operations and improve response time. "We've identified the source of logjams and revised staffing plans accordingly," he says. "Having personnel that are assigned to fixed locations and on-call Tac Teams allows us to send housekeepers anywhere they are needed on short notice." And because Tac Team members are cross–trained, it is easier to fill voids and compensate for staff who are out.

One of the tools enabling ES to deploy staff more effectively is NaviCare, an automated information system that integrates bed management, housekeeping, and other staff functions to improve patient flow. A colorful online display shows the location and status of every patient bed in the hospital, along with the schedule for room cleaning.

Nurses cue the system whenever a patient discharge is imminent. "Knowing exactly when a bed is about to become available allows us to get it ready for the next patient without delay,"says Mr. Bey-Rentas.

Using a radio communication equipment, each housekeeper assigned to a room logs in the time the cleaning assignment was received and when the job was completed. By closely monitoring the time spent on housekeeping activities, together with the Tac Team approach, productivity has gone up. "Our previous benchmark was 30-33 minutes to clean and prepare a room," says Mr. Bey-Rentas. "Now it's down to 18-22 minutes."

Efficient bed management relieves crowding in the ER, adds to patient satisfaction, and increases capacity, thereby improving the hospital's bottom line.

"The Tac Teams approach was a good decision," says Mr. Bey-Rentas. "Working together as a team we can accomplish far more and better than we ever could before."


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