Friday, February 4, 2011

Owning Up to Cleanliness in Your “Home”

Imagine inviting new friends over to your house for a Super Bowl party. Now imagine that your house is littered with random pieces of paper, empty coffee cups or food wrappers. Instead of picking up this trash, you continue to walk by it and just plain ignore that it’s there on the floor. When your new friends arrive to your home can you imagine what their first impression might be? You would probably be embarrassed by the mess as seen through the eyes of your guests.

Well, it’s no different here at GBMC. When patients and visitors enter our “home” their first impression should be one of cleanliness. Because if it were your daughter and she was being admitted to a hospital that was less than clean, it might  send the wrong message about the quality of the care provided. If you’re a parent, you can’t assess the quality of care because you’re not a doctor or nurse, but you can assess the cleanliness of the hospital.
Two weeks ago I came in for a Town Hall meeting at 2:00 a.m. Things were very busy so instead of doing the “town hall,”  I walked throughout the hospital talking to staff.  As I was speaking to staff on one nursing unit that I visited, I was reaching down picking up trash that had not been picked up. Yes, we have to ask our housekeeping staff to mop floors and clean bathrooms and get patient rooms cleaned, but we all have to be a part of the solution too. 

John Green takes pride in keeping GBMC
clean for patients, visitors and staff.
Later that night as I was completing rounds, I was walking down the ED corridor around 2:30 a.m. and encountered a very pleasant employee named John Green, Facilities Project Associate. John was mopping the floor down this expansive stretch of tile hall and I stopped to thank him for keeping this high traffic area of the hospital spotless. He looked at me and said, “Of course, this is the patient’s first impression of GBMC…”
I looked at him and said, “You got it!”  I thank John for recognizing the importance of cleanliness and first impressions, and for taking pride in his work and his workplace.   
I commend our dedicated housekeeping staff for the good work that they do keeping our medical center as clean as possible, but it’s important that we all take ownership of cleanliness.  If you see trash on the floor, please pick it up. If something needs the attention of housekeeping, give them a call.
Cleanliness is not somebody else’s job. Everyone needs to take ownership of the issue. Be proud of where you work and treat GBMC like it is your own home, just like John Green does. Because for so many of us, GBMC is our “home away from home.” Believe me, our patients, visitors and other staff members will thank you for it!
On another note… this week I was discussing with the Employee Relations Council how I might get more people to comment on my blog topics. They suggested that people were “afraid” to put their thoughts in writing for all to see. They suggested that I set aside some time in the cafeteria where people could come up to me and chat if they had time.

So...this coming Monday, February 7, from noon to 1p.m., I will be in the back of the cafeteria. Please come by my table if you have thoughts on this or any blog topic. I hope to see you Monday!

By the way, Raylene Backstrom, Manager of GBMC’s Corner Shop, read my blog post last week which talked about the eye opening book by T.R. Reid - "The Healing of America, The Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer" - and took it upon herself to stock this book in the Corner Shop. Thank you, Raylene! It’s selling for $16 and I encourage you to check it out.


  1. Amen,Dr. Chessare!! It never ceaces to amaze me how many people think that it is "Below" them to stoop down and pick up a piece of trash. This IS our "Home away from home", as most of us spend more time here than with our own families. My 5 year old daughter knows to pick up after herself as well as picking up litter around the house and in the yard.
    Leaving these things to others is just plain lazy. I for one would not want our patients and their families (who already have enough on their minds)to see any portion of, or employee therein as lazy. Come on people!! Take some time and care, we are after all "Care givers" correct?

  2. Afraid to comment? If people are, then perhaps they've had some bad experiences about the leadership staff in the past. As a writer, I think having this blog is a good idea mainly because it opens up a line of communication between upper management and the rest of us.
    As for the trash situation, I couldn't agree more. I try to do my part as part of the trash police on unit 34 and anywhere in the hospital where I see it.

  3. Let's give an EXTRA SPECIAL KUDO's to Mr Donald who works in the cafeteria. Mr Donald is always busy keeping the tables and chairs clean, trash cans emptied. The special thing about Mr Donald is that he always has a moment to speak and wishes you a great day. He treats employees, vistors and patients with respect and for this I am pleased that we have such a wonderful man working on our team at GBMC.

  4. I agree that it is SO important to pick up any trash that we see in the hallways,stairs, etc. Would it be possible to put out a few more trash cans? Especially in the 4th floor corridor? Many visitors with family in the OR use that corridor to get to the cafeteria. There are no trash cans in sight from Pathology all the way to elevator B. I am ashamed to admit that sometimes I feel silly carrying a hand full of trash through that long hallway!

  5. It is good to see all the comments here. Keep it up people, you know you have something to say!!

  6. Lets be more aware of our surroundings.I am tired of walking through the halls and hearing staff saying whats not in their job description and they didnt become a professional to pick up trash or provide basic care to patients. If i can hear this so can visitors and that does not give an good impression of our hospital staff.
    I have seen visitors tell staff there is a spill and they are afraid someone will fall. That staff than picks up the phone calls housekeeping and reports the spill and stands there timing how long it will take someone from that department to arrive and threatening to call the supervisor based on their arrival time.
    During the wait the staff member has a converstaion with the visitor telling them how lazy that department is and they take forever to respond.Not professional at all, first it takes a second for someone to fall and while your waiting for housekeeping did you secure the area? Did you at least put a towel down to absorb some of the spill? Remember that visitor?Well they are watching your action (or lack of in this case) and listening to you complain about housekeeping.
    Someone on the medical staff came to me once and said i knocked my cup over could you call housekeeping and left the unit. When i went to look coffee was dripping from the desk to the floor. Why? was it because it was not in their job description?
    We all are responsible for the saftey of visitors, patients and staff.
    No patient wants to be in the hospital away from family, home and work so everything we do should provide as much as possible a stress free enviroment.
    Pull trash with soiled items in it and remove linen bags with soiled items in it from the patient room before the smell becomes offensive to patient and visitor.It only takes a minute to pick up a piece of discarded trash or paper.
    Alert security if its slippery outside so they can contact the department that handles that. Lets make it safe for visitors,staff and delivery people and remember first impressions are lasting.

  7. I have a thought - perhaps more people might be willing to pick up something off the floor rather than step over it if there were glove bins in the hallways. We already have the hand sanitizers but lets get real, this is flu season. NOBODY wants anyone else's germs! Unfortunately like the commenter before me said, there seems to be a disconnect in the hospital at times. I've seen people step over and around trash to get to the person whose "job" it is to pick it up. Not cool ... so it does help when the white coats, high heels and suit and ties remember to set a good example.

    That said, I would like to thank Julio from housekeeping who keeps Unit 34 as trash-free as possible every day and also our unit manager Cyndi for setting a good example.

  8. Thanks so much for recognizing Donald and Julio!

    As for gloves, I don't worry about picking up trash as long as I don't have active cuts on my hands. I clean my hands after I throw the trash away. We need to be judicious in our use of gloves because they add to the trash!

    I will look into the trash can on the 4th floor issue....but if you see a need for a trash can, report it to facilities.


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