National Hospital Week – Honoring Our EVS Department

National Hospital Week lets us acknowledge employee accomplishments and educate our community about all the services our hospital(s) have to offer.  

It’s often said that the only constant is change. That adage is certainly true for Southcoast Health’s Environmental Services Department during the current COVID-19 crisis.

Change brings not just a challenge but an opportunity. Southcoast Health’s 24/7 365-days-per-year EVS operation has taken advantage of that opportunity.

“As with other departments, we’ve shifted our operations and redeployed staff to meet needs during the current crisis better. We’ve also had the opportunity to work on new projects,” said Paul Ponte, Director of Environmental Services.

The department is responsible for all day-to-day cleaning at all Southcoast Health facilities. Most importantly, this includes all patient rooms, where timely cleaning and sanitation after discharge must be done to ensure rooms are available for new patients. The department also manages the cleaning and distribution of all hospital linens, as well as medical waste and sharps collection.

With many staff in administrative office areas working from home, EVS has been able to decrease the frequency of office cleaning and reassign staff to work on other areas. Similarly, because elective surgeries have been postponed and the surgeries and hospital patient census are down, less cleaning and sanitation is needed in unused and less frequently used areas.

This has enabled EVS to do more deep cleaning, including stripping and waxing floors, in select areas such as the pre-op area in the surgical center, Charlton Memorial’s cardiovascular ICU, and the step-down unit, and the Hospital’s Moran 3.

At St. Luke’s new 16-bed ICU, which opened on April 21, EVS stripped and waxed the floors, disinfected the entire area, and outfitted all rooms with needed supplies such as gloves, hand sanitizer, and other essentials.

The department has been planning for and will manage environmental services at the 100-bed field hospital located at UMass-Dartmouth, according to Chris Leblanc, Executive Director of Engineering/Facilities & EVS. “The frontline work will be outsourced, but we’ll manage it.”

EVS has also assisted the city of New Bedford, which had a shortage of disinfectant. “We arranged for the city to obtain supplies and set up three chemical stations for distribution,” said Ponte. The department has also equipped rooms set aside for frontline staff at the Fairhaven Hampton Inn with cleaning and sanitizing supplies.

“Our EVS staff are working very hard. They’ve risen to the occasion,” said Ponte. “Despite the normal worry and concern that we all have about COVID-19, our 200-plus employees are on the job every day around the clock doing a great job. I couldn’t be more pleased.”

“We’ve also had great cooperation from other departments. The hospital Emergency Departments, in particular, have been phenomenal to work with,” he added.