UPDATED: Monday, April 22, 2013 - 9:14am
The answer to the question why hospitals must be clean is not as straightforward as you might think. The most obvious reason is infection control, but that is certainly not the only goal. Hospitals spends millions of dollars on housekeeping products and staff to wash floors, clean linens and manage day to day chores that have little to do with the spread of bacteria. Consider some of the key reasons that cleanliness is the only way to go in a hospital environment.
Remaining positive is a key part of the healing process. The mind is a complex organ that maintains control over every aspect of body functioning. It is easy to get depressed when sick, especially if you have to spend time in the hospital. One way medical facilities help fight natural urges to feel sorry for oneself is by providing a clean and fresh looking space and dressing staff in bright outfits like Grey's Anatomy scrubs.
The mood enhancement of a clean environment extends beyond the patients. Visitors and employees also benefit from that hospital sparkle. Keeping the facility in shape is part of maintaining a clean feel. Shiny, polished floors, for example, have little to do with dirt. A clean floor doesn’t necessarily have to shine, but the regular polishing helps promote a sense of well-being.
Cost of Upkeep
There is little doubt that hospitals spend a lot of money on upkeep, but a proactive approach to keeping the facility clean is a budget saver. Environmental agencies inspect medical businesses often. If the building fails to meet industry standards set by organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency, the facility faces not only closure but also significant fines.
Hospitals make cleanliness a habit to avoid problems with regulatory agencies, and to reduce the cost of upkeep. If you let your house get dirty, it costs more to get it back in shape. The same is true for commercial spaces. Clean as you go is a priority at a hospital environment. Staff must come to work dressed in hygienic scrubs to promote that concept.
Of course, infection control is the primary reason that hospital must remain clean. The CDC reports that 100,000 patients die each year from infections related to medical care in the United States. It is not possible to eliminate the risk, but hospitals work to prevent the spread of bacteria.
Patients that require hospital stay may have a more difficult time fighting off an infection. That is why a medical facility has different standards than an office building or a school. Little things like requiring the staff to wear fresh scrubs are part of the steps taken to control bacteria and keep the space clean. In addition, a hospital uses sterile equipment for procedures commonly associated with infection like catheters, invasive surgery and ventilator usage.
Reducing the spread of bacteria is why there are cleanliness standards set for hospitals but just part of the story. People naturally connect health and cleanliness. When you see a nurse or doctor, you want them to be wearing clean uniforms. The concept is as much psychological as it is medical.