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GMC team wins 2013 Environmental Service Department of the Year Award

CONTACT:  Mike Ferlazzo: 570-214-7410, 515-450-2908 (c),
Sept. 23, 2013


DANVILLE, Pa. – Geisinger Medical Center’s (GMC) environmental services team is the winner of the 2013 Environmental Services (ES) Department of the Year Award, presented by the Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE) of the American Hospital Association (AHA).

The GMC team (Pictured from Health Facilities Management magazine, L to R: Jack VanReeth, director of ES; Tamara Almquist, Geisinger system director of ES; Robert Thew, GMC manager of ES; and Jane Martin, system manager of performance improvement projects and training) was featured in a cover story about winning the award in the September issue of Health Facilities Management magazine, which is published by the AHA. It is recognized for its “bundled cleaning” approach to patient rooms, high-tech sterilization, coordinated training and improved response time, room turnaround and staff retention.

“Achieving ES Department of the Year status is no easy feat. The determination of the Geisinger Medical Center ES team is outstanding,” said Patti Costello, executive director of the AHE, in the magazine article.

The GMC environmental services staff follows a carefully defined cleaning process with checklists for patient rooms, created by researcher Philip Carling, M.D. Every cleaning cart has a visual and text chart of Carling’s 14 points that need to be cleaned, as well as infection control checklists for daily cleans, discharges and isolation rooms. Supervisors then use fluorescent marking gel and ultraviolet light to measure cleaning thoroughness of the high-touch points. The results of those inspections are then recorded into spreadsheets for reporting to GMC’s infection control and performance improvement committees.

According to the Health Facilities Management article, the GMC team’s commitment to performance improvement on reducing health care-associated infections, consistently adhering to defined protocols and overall safety is a key reason it is winner of the 2013 competition.

“We are pleased with the honor, which recognizes that our bundled cleaning approach is resulting in a consistently high success rate that contributes to reducing infection rates,” said Jack Van Reeth, director of environmental systems and surgical cleaning services at GMC. “That’s the ultimate goal.”

About Geisinger Health System

Geisinger Health System is an integrated health services organization widely recognized for its innovative use of the electronic health record, and the development of innovative care models such as ProvenHealth Navigator® and ProvenCare®. As the nation’s largest rural health services organization, Geisinger serves more than 2.6 million residents throughout 44 counties in central and northeastern Pennsylvania. The physician-led system is comprised of more than 19,500 employees, including a 1,000-member multi-specialty group practice, six hospital campuses, two research centers and a 448,000-member health plan, all of which leverage an estimated $6.1 billion positive impact on the Pennsylvania economy. The health system and the health plan have repeatedly garnered national accolades for integration, quality and service. In addition to fulfilling its patient care mission, Geisinger has a long-standing commitment to medical education, research and community service. For more information, visit, or follow the latest Geisinger news and more on Twitter and  Facebook.

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