Cleaning always at the forefront at state-run hospitals

DOVER — While spearheading the reaction to spreading coronavirus worldwide, Delaware’s state government health professionals must stay healthy too.

That means maintaining the safety of whoever Department of Health and Social Services staff contacts as well.

About 44 full-time equivalent employees clean state-run nursing homes — the Governor Bacon Health Center in Delaware City and Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill in Smyrna. Besides associated salary costs, there’s $102,500 budgeted for housekeeping supplies. Funding can be adjusted as needed, spokeswoman Jill Fredel said the week.

The Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities manages housekeeping at the facilities.

At the Delaware Psychiatric Center in New Castle and Stockley Center in Georgetown, there are 63 full-time salaries and $460,349 in supplies. Facilities Operations also oversees selected buildings connected to their administration, DHSS said. The budget can be altered to meet facility needs.

Contracted housekeeping staff manages all other locations, which include state service centers. Vendors provide their own staff and supplies, DHSS said.

Implementing, adding

DHSS said that in response to the ongoing pandemic:

• Facilities operations staff and contracted janitorial services at the state service centers are taking the same precautions as they would during influenza outbreaks. These include: handwashing, wearing latex gloves at all times, wiping down door knobs and push bars, wiping down surfaces, and wearing masks in the hospitals.

• Facilities Operations has added additional sterilization services to the restrooms, and stairwells at the Porter, Hudson, Northeast, and Delawarr State Service Centers. Contracted janitorial services have added additional daytime service hours at the downstate service centers.

• Specifically, the DSAAPD nursing homes have implemented the following:

1, All housekeeping staff have been practicing Universal Precautions, wearing gloves and hand washing.

2, The steramist disinfectant cleaner (a highly effective cleaning system, DHSS said) is used to cleaner floors with common bathrooms.

3, Resident and community dayrooms are wiped down daily with Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaner Disinfectant Wipes. All touchable surfaces are wiped down daily, door knobs, phones, desk tops and tables.

4, Hand sanitizers were installed on walls near the time clocks.

Meeting the challenges

To meet the challenges to health and cleanliness, DHSS said it is:

• Recommending that administrative sites follow all of the standard business processes and apply the CDC guidance related to COVID-19.

• Where possible, employees are being set up to telework. DHSS has deployed a Telework Support Team who is working with each Division to evaluate and set up teleworking arrangement.

• Where telework is not possible, DHSS is following the guidance below issued by the Office of Management and Budget and are having additional discussions about meeting needs and ensuring safety:

  1. Building control measures to reduce the number of “touch points” by propping doors, where appropriate, providing access to hand sanitizer, if possible, and providing cleaning supplies in common areas so employees may wipe surfaces, as needed.
  2. All in-person meetings are being converted to teleconference or videoconference, if possible.
  3. Employees should practice social distancing, maintaining 6 feet of space between one another, whenever possible.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage

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