There is opportunity and good profit in the cleaning of health care facilities. This includes Dr., dentist and other professional medical offices and buildings. Other locations that require similar levels of service include labs, pharmacies, dialysis centers, and research, medical and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Larger facilities include hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living and hospice centers. Closely related locations include daycare, child development centers and health clubs.
These facilities require a more precise level of cleaning than basic office buildings, because of issues related to regulation, liability, medical treatment, contamination, and infection control. Other concerns include hazardous chemicals, sharps (needles and glass), plus the collection and disposal of various types of medical waste. Patient confidentiality, noise levels, hospital acquired infection rates (HAI), and patient surveys are important issues in health care facilities. The responsibly and risk inherent in these accounts should not be taken lightly due to the possibly of death, illness and liability if proper procedures are not followed.
What’s Different in Medical Facilities?
- Training: Due to risks and the technical nature of the work and the documentation and supervision required, intensive orientation and ongoing training is required.
- Documentation: Checklists, written procedures (SOP’s) and sign off sheets are commonly used to track and validate that work is completed as specified.
- Supervision & Management: Is required as there is no tolerance of errors. Multiple governmental and private agencies (Joint Commission, Department of Labor & Industries, OSHA, the health department and others) monitor, audit, inspect and approve the operation and funding of medical facilities. Testing is often required to validate the desired results of the cleaning processes are accomplished. This can include the use of an ATP meter, tribometer, gloss meter, particle counter and other scientific instruments.
- Risk and Liability: Are greater in health care cleaning due to the nature of the work, which includes potential exposure to infectious materials, medical waste disposal, and increased risk of slip, trip and fall injuries to cleaners, the public and facility staff. It is important to discuss your insurance coverage and costs with your agent before beginning to verify that you have adequate protection.
- Sensitivity: Patients can sick, stressed and uncomfortable in these locations, some with life threatening illnesses and others who are visiting those who are ill. You must be aware of the need to take this into consideration when working in medical facilities. People handle stresses differently and are not always in an understanding mood. Workers need to be aware and more considerate of others, than one might be in other work environments. A smile, a quite hello, a “may I help you” attitude go a long way in making everyone’s experience as pleasant as possible. A higher level of professionalism is required; you are dealing with Doctors, nurses and other educated professionals who take their work responsibilities and time seriously.
What You Need to Know
- Services: Include basic office, restroom and common area cleaning. Specialized services are required for more sensitive areas such as labs, patient, exam, procedure and operating rooms, etc. When it comes to selling your services, start small and grow over time as you gain additional knowledge and credibility. Window cleaning, pressure washing, carpet cleaning and hard floor care are often included or offered as an extra charge.
- Production Rates: Will depend on what you are doing; office areas can be bid at the same rates as other office areas. Production rates depending on the type of area you are cleaning and can range from 1500 to 3000 or more sq. ft. per hour. Exam and procedure rooms are slower than offices as exam tables need to be cleaned, disinfected and new paper (if used) put in place. There may be a sharps box and bio waste container that needs to be dumped or replaced. Disposal of medical waste is regulated and must be handled in a specific manner, which may include bagging, weighing, tagging and storage in a color coded container. Medical waste is picked up by a certified disposal firm and cannot be placed with normal trash. Cost is based on poundage and the type of waste. Include these costs in your bid after doing the proper research to see how each type of waste must be handled in your area and the actual cost of disposal.
- Operating Suites: Areas where blood and body fluids are commonly present are cleaned at much slower rates, anywhere between 500 and 1500 sq. ft. per hour. In medical centers that have several operating rooms and are busy are normally cleaned by a team of two or three people, to reduce down time and keep the cases on schedule.
- Patient Rooms: Specific rooms may be set aside for patients with highly infectious or very sensitive cases will require more time and a complete clean between cases. Average times for room turnovers range from 15- 20 minutes to over an hour for a complete clean of an isolation room.
- Costs: Costs are generally higher in this market as the expectation of management and staff is higher. The more specialized the area and work performed, the higher the wages you must pay and the more you will need to charge (10% – 30% above minimum wage). The cost of background checks, employee badges, and uniforms and vaccinations need to be taken into consideration when bidding health care locations.
- Security and Confidentiality: Are a concern and require special training and awareness. What happens in a health care facility stays there. Hepatitis Shots must be offered, cost $300 to $400 per series of shots per employee.
- International Executive Housekeepers Assoc. ieha.org
- Training, certification and membership
- Association for the Healthcare Environment. ahe.org
- Training and certification and membership
Good Luck and Keep it Clean out there.