Outsourced janitorial services combined with a realignment of policies will assist pediatrician offices with infection control and prevention.
Janitorial Services Role in Infection Control and Prevention in Pediatrician Offices
Cold and flu season is here, and that means children visiting pediatrician offices are at an elevated risk for exposure and infection.
Children up to the age of 11 are considered at high-risk for flu infections which, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC);
[…] is more dangerous than the common cold for children.
Each year flu places a large burden on the health and well-being of children and their families.
The uptick in sick adults and children leads to an increase in contaminated surfaces in the office, many of which are likely being neglected during routine cleaning and disinfection, specifically, books and toys.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics;
Cross contamination could occur from toys, books, and computers, among other fomites in the waiting room or in the clinic examination rooms.
It is therefore recommended that practices have policies in place to address the method and frequency of cleaning toys.
Furry and plush toys, such as stuffed animals, are difficult to clean and can harbor germs, and should generally be avoided in clinic waiting areas and game rooms.
Parents can also be encouraged to bring their child’s own toy for the office visit.
Toy-Related Germ Transfer
Germ covered toys in pediatric offices and hospitals is a real concern.
Currently, the accepted policy for dealing with toys in doctors and pediatrician offices is to clean and disinfect them daily.
This approach has several issues:
- It is extremely difficult to clean soft or plush toys, let alone daily.
- Germs can last for several hours on the toys, and daily cleaning does not prevent the transfer of germs in between cleaning cycles; i.e., during regular business hours.
- The chemicals used to clean and disinfect the toys can be hazardous, especially for young children who tend to put things in their mouth, and;
- There is evidence to suggest that the recommended disinfecting wipes transfer germs to toys, as opposed to removing them.
Green Cleaning Tips
- Bring your own toys, reading material, and hand sanitizer.
- Avoid the waiting room if possible by requesting the front desk contact you by cell phone when the doctor is ready to see you.
- Wash your child’s hands before and after the visit with regular soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
- Do not allow children to stick office provided toys in their mouth.
- Strongly consider eliminating toys, magazines, and books in the waiting room in favor of office controlled entertainment centers.
- Place liquid hand sanitizer throughout the office, and encourage its safe use.
- Ensure all high-contact surfaces are cleaned and disinfected at least daily, especially computers, tables, countertops, door panels or handles, and chairs.
- Thoroughly clean and sanitize restrooms from top to bottom with an EPA certified Category IV disinfectant, if allowed.
- Equip restrooms with touchless toilets, faucets, soap, and paper towel dispensers.
- Implement packet-filled foaming soap as opposed to liquid top-filled systems, and;
- Remove air-blown hand dryers.
References & Resources
- Pediatricians’ New Germ-Control Advice: Bring Your Own Toys
- The Flu: A Guide for Parents
- Weekly US Map: Influenza Summary Update
- CDC Digital Media Toolkit: 2017-18 Flu Season
- Swabbing of waiting room magazines reveals only low levels of bacterial contamination
Approximately 20 thousand children under the age of five are hospitalized every year due to complications from the flu virus.
Books, magazines, and toys, classified as high-contact and likely contaminated surfaces, are a commonly overlooked area when cleaning and disinfecting the office.
The recommended policy is to forego providing toys and advise parents to bring toys from home.
While avoidance is a good policy, proper hand-hygiene is the recommended best practice.
An experienced janitorial service provider can assist with all the safe-for-use products and practices necessary to align your office with its ‘clean for health first’ goals.
In Bakersfield CA, call (661) 437-3253
In Fresno CA, call (559) 206-1059
In Valencia CA, or Santa Clarita CA, call (661) 437-3253