With more and more states lifting, or planning to lift, stay-at-home orders, business owners and office managers across the country are exploring the safest – and most practical – measures to reopen their facilities to employees and customers alike. Medical offices, such as doctor’s offices, dental facilities, and specialty clinics, should begin to see an uptick in foot traffic as in-person visits start to increase and elective procedures resume. It is critical that these facilities implement cleaning and disinfecting regimens that go above and beyond the pre-coronavirus standard.
As medical offices begin the process of reopening their operations, decision makers must determine how they can create the safest environment for their staff and for their patients. At Corvus Janitorial, we understand the vital role medical professionals play – both during this pandemic and outside of it – to ensuring that our communities are healthy, happy, and safe. With that in mind, we are here to provide advice on procedures that should be implemented in medical offices and facilities in order to successfully reopen in the safest, most sanitary way.
Perform a Deep Clean and Disinfection Before Opening the Office
According to Tommy Petagna of Corvus of New Orleans, “Before opening the office to staff and patients, both a thorough, deep clean and facility-wide disinfection should be performed. We’re seeing more and more of our medical office clients ask for this type of deep clean even before we recommend it”. Though they are often thought of as the same, cleaning and disinfecting are two distinct processes. During a general clean, the intent is to remove dirt and dust. This step must be completed before disinfection because germs can lurk in grime and soiled areas. Once an area is clean, it must then be disinfected.
Disinfection can be done in numerous ways. With COVID-19, the disinfection of all areas using commercial grade chemicals is critical. Typical disinfecting is done using EPA approved medical grade chemicals that are applied to a surface using a spray bottle (or as a mop solution for floors). The disinfectant is then given “dwell time”, which is time to sit on the surface and kill microorganisms. Though this method is effective at killing germs, it can be a time-consuming task to disinfect every surface in a facility, and hard to reach areas are often missed.
Disinfecting Techniques to Combat COVID-19
To address the issues with common disinfection methods, it is advisable to use a machine, such as an electrostatic sprayer or an ultra-low volume (ULV) fogger. This will ensure maximum coverage and effectiveness.
Electrostatic sprayers work by giving the disinfectant solution a positive electric charge. Because surfaces typically carry a negative or neutral charge, once the disinfectant is sprayed, the positively charged chemicals are attracted to the negatively charged surfaces and will bind to them. The droplets will cover the entire visible area, including the underside and backside of surfaces. Surfaces that have already been covered by the disinfectant will repel additional spray, maximizing the efficiency of delivery.
ULV fog machines work in a similar manner to electrostatic sprayers. ULV fogging works by compressing disinfectants through a nozzle that produces a fine mist or aerosol. The droplets that are produced are incredibly small and concentrated, therefore fewer chemicals need to be used. These droplets will linger in the air for approximately ten minutes, allowing them to bind to any visible surface area.
At Corvus, we have begun utilizing both electrostatic sprayers and ULV foggers in our service offering to customers. We believe these methods are both effective at eradicating viral pathogens as well as safe for use in our customer’s facilities and for our franchise owners. We are happy to provide a free quote for these services as either a one-time work or as a part of a routine, recurring service offering.
Routine Cleaning is Not So Routine Anymore
Though businesses are beginning to open back up, we are still nowhere close to “business as usual”. With stay-at-home orders being replaced with safer-at-home guidance, there is still the looming threat of COVID-19 community spread. Additionally, a high rate of asymptomatic carriers means that an individual who shows no signs of infection could visit your office during a routine checkup. Thus, inadvertently exposing your facility to risks. Because of the virus’s high infection rate and the number of potentially asymptomatic carriers, decision makers must account for this risk and take preventative, precautionary steps in their facilities.
Was your medical office being cleaned twice a week before the coronavirus pandemic? If so, it may be a good idea to increase that frequency to three, four, maybe even five times per week. In medical facilities, it is never a bad idea to be overly cautious. As these facilities are more likely to interface with individuals at a greater risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, they must be even more proactive in their cleaning procedures than any other businesses. As society adjusts to a “new normal”, cleaning and disinfecting are more important now than ever before.
Reopening Reminders and Checklist
Your cleaning regimen is not the only facet of your office that is likely to change once you reopen. For example, some states and localities are requiring reduced on-premise staff, alternating work schedules for at-risk workers, or other social distancing procedures in the workplace. Below, we highlight some important items that all facility managers and decision makers should account for as they get back to business:
1. Prepare a list of obvious and overlooked high touch objects such as appliances in break rooms, telephone handles, sinks and basins, trash cans, and communal printers.
2. Thoroughly clean AND disinfect those high touch points with an EPA certified disinfectant allowing for a proper dwell time of the chemical (click here for additional resources)
3. Engage with your team to comply with an appropriate headcount for your office space as well as discussing protocol for potential distancing in office. Some states are mandating reduced concentration of personnel or alternating schedules, and it’s important to stay up-to-date on these regulations.
4. Engage an outside cleaning company or delegate your own personnel to provide a thorough top to bottom clean and disinfection regime prior to re-opening.
5. Prepare to have appropriate cleaning tools, supplies, and equipment such as clean rags or wipes, proper chemicals and clean, and well-working vacuum cleaners.
During these unprecedented times, it is crucial that we take unprecedented precautions to maintain the health and safety of everyone. When it comes to reopening medical offices, we, at Corvus Janitorial, strongly urge you to take the right measures in cleaning and disinfecting your office. Doing so will ensure the safety of your staff, your patients, and their families. If you are interested in a free quote or would like more information about the appropriate cleaning and disinfection of your medical office in preparation for reopening, please feel free to contact us today!
This piece is meant simply to inform, not to provide any legal or medical advice.
About Corvus Janitorial Systems
Founded in 2004 to make people’s lives better, Corvus is a full-service commercial cleaning franchisor that offers cleaning services through reputable local Franchisees. Corvus has been guided by its mission to transform people and transform places by consistently delivering independence, security, and freedom to Franchisees who deliver high-quality cleaning to offices, educational buildings, medical buildings/offices, recreational centers, industrial parks, and other spaces. The company has 17 regional support offices across the United States with nearly 900 Franchisees. For more information regarding Corvus, visit www.corvusjanitorial.com or www.corvusjanitorial.com/franchise for franchise information.