With the COVID-19 pandemic emerging as a major threat, the concepts of cleaning, disinfection, and sanitization have changed across the world in the past year. Back in 2019, cleaning was just another back-end task for every facility - be it hospitals, schools, offices, or others. Today, this perspective has completely changed. The pandemic has shown us the thin line between cleaning and disinfection, and each facility has had to redefine its cleaning and infection control protocols. Healthcare facilities, in particular, have come under the scanner since infection control has proved to be most challenging in hospitals and clinics.
The perception of ‘clean’ across the board, including healthcare, has dramatically changed. Cleaning is being given the importance it deserves, and rightly so. High-touchpoints, frequency of cleaning, disinfectant contents to name a few, are being considered across the spectrum to ensure any potential wave is prevented. A great deal of importance has been heightened thanks to government-led efforts.
As new variants of the coronavirus make their way to the different corners of the world, hospitals and other healthcare facilities face new challenges - maintaining an increased frequency of cleaning, ensuring infection control protocols are followed, cleaning high touchpoints, and above all, choosing the right cleaning solutions and equipment for their facilities.
Dubai London Clinic always knew that cleaning and disinfection were important in hospitals and clinics. But they were quick to realize that during the pandemic, they had to concentrate on the frequency of cleaning and the consideration of contact time of their cleaning chemicals in order to ensure that cleaning, disinfection, and sanitization were completed safely and effectively.
Since 2020, every healthcare facility has had to face unique challenges. For instance, the increased frequency of cleaning and disinfection calls for an increased demand for cleaning chemicals and supplies. “The major challenges we faced were related to having enough resources to ensure the frequency of cleaning was maintained as we introduced ‘high touchpoints’ cleaning and leaving consultation rooms empty for 20 minutes between patients so that thorough cleaning and disinfection could be completed effectively, says Rita Gallagher, Quality and Risk Manager, Dubai London Clinic.
Dubai London Clinic also had to increase the number of housekeeping staff to ensure thorough cleaning as per the DHA regulations. Another challenge they faced pertained to the selection of products. With the surge of the pandemic, the market was flooded by cleaning chemicals that made claims about being effective against the coronavirus. The major challenge was to ensure that they choose the most effective, standardized, and approved products for use in the hospital and clinics.
Infection control measures in healthcare
We’ve seen many unique challenges emerging in the past year. But we’ve also seen some exceptional and innovative ways of overcoming those challenges. In healthcare, stringent infection control policies and measures have balanced the difficult situation at hand. For starters, Dubai London Clinic introduced a contingency plan for all their cleaning and disinfection products in order to ensure safety. This was followed by increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfection.
The next big step was to impart training to the ground cleaning staff and updating their skills and knowledge about cleaning and disinfection. The cleaners had
to be educated about the need to disinfect more frequently, the new ways of cleaning, and the proper usage of PPE. Without this step, neither cleaning nor disinfection would be completely efficient. There were more frequent training sessions, demonstrations, observations, and return demonstrations. This extra training was accompanied by introducing competency assessment forms and quizzes to ensure knowledge and skills were updated. In fact, Dubai London Clinic also introduced virtual monitoring of staff during cleaning and disinfection in order to improve feedback. Preparedness drills were also conducted for COVID-19 and cleaning protocols.
The number of housekeepers was also increased to cope up with the increased frequency of cleaning. All staff was responsible for cleaning their areas and cleaning products, cleaning wipes were placed in all areas easily accessible. Apart from this, extra hand sanitizers were placed on all tabletops. Extra wall-mounted dispensers were also placed in all public areas. Dubai London Clinic also took the major step of introducing misting disinfection in all areas after working hours. Social distancing was encouraged by placing awareness stickers in public areas.
The frequency of infection control audits, hand hygiene compliance, and PPE availability monitoring was increased, besides screening all patients and staff entering the facility. These stringent infection control measures were important and helped the elite clinic battle COVID-19.
Choosing the right solutions partner
There are thousands of products that claim to be effective against COVID-19. Choosing the right one is a critical decision for any healthcare facility. This decision, in these circumstances, can prove to either be life-saving or suicidal. So, Dubai London Clinic considered multiple factors to choose the right solutions partner.
- Evidence-based products with approved effectiveness: Any product can claim effectiveness. But Dubai London Clinic went a step ahead and verified those claims. Only suppliers with evidence backing their claims were considered.
- Acceptability by staff during product evaluation: Zeroing in on one supplier is not a one-man job. Different staff members (having years of healthcare experience) were involved in this decision. It was only after a thorough evaluation of the products that the supplier was chosen.
- Approved by the local authority: Needless to say, only the products approved by local regulatory authorities were considered.
- Other factors: In addition to these, factors such as standardization of products and the quality and effectiveness of the products were considered.
Partnering with Diversey
After careful consideration of all these factors, Dubai London Clinic decided to continue with Diversey for major cleaning processes. “This has been standardized for the last two years. We chose Diversey because of their quality of service and use of automated dispensers, which meant the staff was not exposed to mixing chemicals, which could cause harm due to splash. For hand sanitization, we used to have a variety of products but recently switched to Diversey due to the successful product evaluation and also to standardize all the cleaning and disinfection products throughout the hospital and clinics,” says Rita.
Diversey has not only provided hospital-grade cleaning supplies to Dubai London Clinic, but it has also helped in the training of the cleaning staff and ensured regular supply and availability of its products, something that proved to be a challenge for many others.
Diversey - redefining client support
In fact, all Diversey clients were supported with extensive training, availability of suitable portfolios to combat the virus and knowledge/awareness webinars throughout the pandemic. The company also looked at its clients' requirements that spanned from hand hygiene stands at various locations within the facility, to providing hygiene kits as a goodwill gesture for their staff and patients.
Diversey endeavors to provide its services by closely monitoring current practices and recommending sufficient (and efficient) solutions, by ensuring it consolidates product requirements and does not burden its customers with excessive products. All of this while providing post-sales consultancy via dedicated software to ensure hygiene and cost compliance at any given point in time.
Meeting the increased demand for hospital-grade disinfectants
“Challenges we faced spanned from the availability of the disinfectants, and customer’s perception of what works, what doesn't, what should, and what will not;
in essence customer presumptions. Availability was a challenge considering the spike in demand across geographies. This led to a shortage of raw materials, an increase in freight costs, and patience levels. However, thanks to a myriad of products available in our portfolio, we were able to mitigate these challenges,” says Varun Asser, Sector Manager - Healthcare GCC & Channel Business UAE for Diversey.
Varun further discusses how customers were acquainted with specific chemistries for disinfection/sanitization and hence, resisting change. For example, if a customer was using an alcohol-based disinfectant, it was a task to move them to Hydrogen Peroxide-based solutions. However, over time, due to the diligent efforts of the Diversey technical team across the region, they were able to provide microbiological reports for their chemistries and ensure customers began using their range (post-training).
Dubai London Clinic is one of the few healthcare facilities that have various Diversey portfolios available within them. Diversey’s portfolio is split into housekeeping and infection prevention. Under housekeeping, all general cleaners, i.e, for floors, glasses, over the floor surfaces (hard surfaces), washrooms, etc., are covered with their Jfill range of products. These are ultra-concentrated chemicals that are made in Canada and come in a sealed bottle that doesn't allow the user to come in contact with the neat chemical.
Under infection prevention, they have recently been awarded the facility's hand hygiene contract. Their latest innovation, named Intellicare, comes in manual and hybrid dispensers. It includes hand sanitizers, hand soaps, moisturizers (perfume-free suitable for Healthcare), and shampoo and shower gels. All these are provided with the same dispenser. These dispensers have the capability for controlled dosing, i.e. they're equipped with two dosing options of 0.4ml and 1ml per push. This allows total control over operational costs, and remains economical at a time when every moolah spent is carefully considered.
Diversey is looking to expand its portfolio with hard surface disinfecting wipes, powered by Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide, a patented technology that eliminates viruses in as little as 15 seconds, making it one of the fastest disinfecting technologies present in the world. Healthcare facilities would find this technology extremely useful, considering the rising number of HAIs in recent times.
Overall, the strategic partnership between Dubai London Clinic and Diversey has proven to be an excellent one that has ensured near-perfect hygiene standards in these trying times!