In May 2019, the Indiana Hospital Association hosted the first Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Technician (CHEST) training for Indiana rural and critical access hospitals. The CHEST training is a three-day program through the Association for the Health Care Environment (AHE), an arm of the American Hospital Association. Environmental service technicians play an essential role in the quality of care and patient safety through a clean health care environment. The Small Rural Hospital Improvement Project (SHIP), a grant-funded through the Indiana State Office of Rural Health and HRSA, provided funds for IHA to fully fund SHIP-participating rural and critical access hospitals to attend the three-day immersive training.
CHEST training was a new opportunity many hospitals were excited to pursue and has now become the standard of care at several IHA member facilities, including Rush Memorial Hospital. At the beginning of 2020, Rush Memorial was eager to start training employees. But then the unimaginable happened: a global pandemic.
Deborah Showalter, director of environmental services at Rush Memorial, attended CHEST training on behalf of her hospital. She was excited to get her team up and running on the new program.
“Education is the key to achieving higher performance, self-confidence, and team attitude," Showalter said. “My team was hungry for education and eager to learn more. However, because we were consumed by the pandemic, we weren't able to participate in a lot of the trainings initially."
COVID-19 is still overwhelming emergency rooms, but Showalter says her team is implementing this training every day at the hospital. Especially after navigating through a global pandemic, she says many employees are beginning to find a new purpose in their work.
“Before CHEST, my staff would receive EVS training on how to perform their duties, would come to work and be directed to complete assigned tasks, but lacked the formal education which explained the 'why' behind what they were doing," Showalter said. “CHEST provided this much-needed education."
Showalter says the CHEST program is a benefit to the hospital—and patients and other hospital staff are already seeing the difference.
“Rush does a great job of making people aware of the new trainings and certifications staff members complete," Showalter said.
She explained that when patients see they have been assigned a certified technician on their case, it makes them feel more at ease.
“Not only is the program benefitting patients and our hospital as a whole, but my team also has greater respect from other employees and for themselves—and that in itself is monumental for growth," she said.
Brad Smith, CEO of Rush Memorial and incoming IHA Chairman, is honored to have this additional training and certification offered.
“I am very proud of our EVS team committing to be CHEST certified," Smith said. “This certification takes our EVS department to the next level of knowledge and expertise. Unfortunately, EVS departments are taken for granted, but each person who works in EVS plays such an important role in infection control, keeping our facilities clean, and keeping our patients, guests, and employees safe. A clean facility is a safe facility. I think the health care industry was really reminded of the importance of an EVS department during COVID-19."
More information and a previous story on the CHEST training program can be found here.