We sit down with Rich Fezcko, National Director of Standards and Innovation at Compass One Healthcare to talk about the importance of the 5 Pillars of Safety in Healthcare®. Rich has been at the forefront of the fight against infectious diseases and has helped position Compass One Healthcare and Crothall Healthcare as leaders in the industry in regards to patient safety. In addition, we speak with our partners in infection prevention: Surfacide and Virtual Manager.
COC: When we read your title, National Director of Standards & Innovations, what does that mean for those who don’t know? And what do you do on a day-to-day basis?
Rich: From a Standard’s and Innovations standpoint, my role is multi-tiered. With regards to the Standards component, my responsibility is to make sure that I enforce, reinforce, and update our internal standards applications and platforms nationally. I support, not only our environmental services side, but also our clinical engineering, facilities management, patient transport, and laundry. I also have a connected line with what we’re doing with Food & Nutrition as well, which is exciting because that’s when it gets into some of the Innovation points, which I’ll talk about in a moment. From a regulatory stand-point, I make sure that we’re armed with the right information related to joint commission, CMS, OSHA and other accreditations and deeming authority mandates that our folks abide by on a daily basis. The exciting part is the Innovation, where we’re able to look at such devices as UV technology, electrostatic applications, and other applications in the industry that help reduce hospital-associated infections and optimize the patients’ safety throughout all of our facilities and, in fact, even in other categories such as Education, Businesses & Industries side, helping with student safety and people safety, alike.
COC: Sounds like you’ve said that a few times before, Rich.
Rich: haha, I have.
COC: You have quite a lot of responsibility! During this pandemic we’ve been going through, your job is obviously super important to everything that Compass One Healthcare is all about and doing. Talk to us just a little bit about what you have faced with this COVID pandemic.
Rich: In regards to the current pandemic we live in with COVID-19, my responsibility, primarily, has been to be the point person for interaction from deeming authorities and to protocols to the field. And an example of that would be the pivots by the CDC in particular with masks and PPE opportunities nationwide. We’ve been able to adjust and modify our practice in accordance to those pivots. Where I come in, as well, is to circulate that information to the field, meaning that we operationally have the most robust systems in place to support what our services require. Technology is included there as well.
COC: So Rich, during all of this, on a personal level, tell us what you’ve seen out there. The Compass One folks that are out there just dealing with this COVID pandemic, day in and day out in the hospitals. What did you see from a personal standpoint of people rising to the occasion?
Rich: Great question. My observations have been from east coast to west coast, north and south. Starting with what we faced in the west coast in the Seattle market and California as earlier doctors with COVID instances as early as February. Our folks were immediate action takers. They were able to connect me in with regards to helping me support them in the process. And, quite frankly, there were a lot of apprehensions in all of our levels of not only management but also hourly associates to make sure we were doing what we needed to do. So coupled with not only our practical from east coast to west coast, north and south, in our ability to communicate out, what we were trying to accomplish with regard to those pivots that I mentioned with the CDC and other authorities, but also the messaging from Bobby Kutteh within the organization to reach those folks, assuring them that we were doing the right thing, not only from a practice standpoint, but ultimately, patient safety and associate safety is paramount in all that we do.
COC: Let’s shift gears just a little bit, still in the same realm here, and talk about the White Paper that you guys have coming out. What is the purpose of a White Paper and why is it so important to Compass One?
Rich: Fantastic question. This is something I am very proud of. About ten years ago, we recalibrated our infection prevention approach, looking more at the practical components upwards to innovation and adjunct technology. And over that period of time, we have published, now this is our fourth White Paper document that helps with regards to explaining protocols, industry standards, and also what we have found to supplement in Innovation, the helpful tools and resources we use to mitigate HAIs, customize patient safety, and to help our clients achieve the benefit of the holistic environmental safety program we are trying to achieve. This White Paper consists of five pillars as they must have starting with hand hygiene and as you and the audience probably knows, we have not heard more about hand hygiene than we do today. Hand hygiene continues to be paramount and spotlighted as the number one reason for virus spread and so forth. So as we have that as number one in our roster. Process, people and products are number two. It’s a deep dive not only into our methodology with high profile cleaning but with the appropriate products and disinfectants and the people executing those services. It’s a measurement. What does it all mean without measurement? In our organization, we use ATP to quickly measure the efficacy and application on services such as bed rails, elevator key pads, and so forth. And then it gets into the adjunct technology like UV that I mentioned earlier. But the cool thing is in pillar 5, it doesn’t stop. We’re always looking at best in class innovation, helpful innovation, and validated information. Intelligent technology that can help us take the next steps into the utilization of technology, innovation and solutions that can be helpful from an adjunct perspective to drive down HAI events and risk for all of our clients nationally.
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COC: Speaking of technology and innovation, we recently spoke with Surfacide CEO, Gunner Lyslo, about Surfacide and their relationship with Compass One and Crothall.
Gunner: Surfacide is a multiple UVC emitter technology that uses or harnesses UVC energy to address the role of bacteria virus spore that are known to colonize patient or healthcare environments. What I love about the relationship is, several years ago, Crothall or Compass One went through an extensive due diligence process. They recognized that Surfacide was bringing some real innovation to the UVC modality space. And in the interest of their clients, they then said that this was the most effective means of distributing energy that we know is going to be effective at eradicating bacteria viruses spore. So, the fact that we have this really strong partnership, Crothall is doing it because they want to bring the most advanced technology to their clients, in the end, the patients win because they’re entering into a facility to receive the highest level of care. The healthcare providers are winning because they’re providing an environment that results in better outcomes so they’re weaning out costs. Crothall and Surfacide and winning because we’re in a position to provide a really valuable solution. So it’s really a great relationship.
COC: We also had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Tony Morocco from Virtual Manager. He discussed his tracking app and the value Virtual Manager brings hospitals in terms of labor efficiency and contact tracing.
Tony: We’re a software developer that provides turnkey solutions for niche markets to really improve visibility, transparency, compliance that can really relate to any workplace situation. Our overall goal is to reduce risk, and within certain niche areas in Compass and Crothall, especially healthcare cleaning, we looked at that kind of paper process and how can we give power or visibility back to management. Number one is take that paper process and digitize it through the Virtual Manager app called Health Clean. So we have that deployed in over 30 hospitals. We digitize that current process and employees take that app and have mobile devices on their cleaning carts, in their pockets, and they are able to go around and validate all the cleaning tasks that they have. Then, on the back end, management has the visibility on the dashboard to look in and see productivity and communicate with their staff. Overall, they are able to look at that historical data to make intelligent decisions on the go. In real time they’re able to access where that cleaner was. Or if you want to look at a specific room and see if there was a confirmed [coronavirus case] or exposure, you’re able to look at that room and who entered. So overall, the goal is to look at that and if you need to have isolations for patient safety, staff safety and the environment in general, provide that as a safe place to be.
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COC: A special thanks to Gunner Lyslo and Tony Morocco. And now back to our podcast with Rich Fezcko. Rich, when you look at those 5 pillars of this White Paper, there’s so much information in here. Why would someone looking to outsource food and support services in the healthcare space want to read all of this? What benefit would it bring to them?
Rich: The benefit, I think, in our organization, and any healthcare facility system nationally, would be the intelligence and due diligence that we put in from the back end to support our findings. It would be one thing if we were to say that executing the tool of high profile cleaning is just what we want to call something to do something, but to have science behind it, to have proven data metrics and outcomes that help us to achieve those hospital required infection reductions in our facilities nationwide is really the catalyst. And that is where that paper comes into big time play showing those metrics, showing intelligent use and showing the outcomes that our clients are wanting to achieve and to attain to produce those reduced hospital acquired infection rates nationwide.
COC: When you talk about the pillars and best practices, obviously, like you said you were able to adapt everything to the pandemic when you were building this White Paper to incorporate all that. But, what is all that, the pillars and best practices, what impact does that have on the future of patient care that you have built into this White Paper?
Rich: There are consequences to not conforming by the CMS and centers for Medicare and Medicaid or making sure the hospital systems or stand-alone hospitals nationally, conform to patient safety. These tools that we’re bringing to the table, by way of this White Paper, are best practices. So in our end, we are doing our part to support those returns, those reimbursement returns so that hospitals continue to operate smoothly and are financially capable to help an honor their community and the needs of their community for patient safety, for elective surgeries, or every opportunity they find, in-patient, out-patient, ambulatory care opportunities and offerings that they have. So the White Paper really provides the support service intelligence to help our hospitals and our systems to look at the best-in-class provider and the fact that not only from a service standpoint, we get to do what we say we do but we get to help their finances as well, driving down those hospital acquired infections. So the power of clean has the opportunity to impact not only how we execute services from an environmental standpoint but holistically the patient safety element, the community element, the idea around what we’ve been able to produce metrically, scientifically through that document is able to convince and showcase expertise, outcomes, and that we care. As an organization, we truly care for the healing team to benefit any organization that we work in to help produce the best result for everybody involved. And in that paper, including not only the patient safety elements but we have our own safety elements as well where we are helping to reduce slips and falls and so forth. So it’s truly a robust document so I think that that message, although it’s long winded, it will resonate with readers that are looking for that type of position not only from an outcome based standpoint but from a caring part that we really are compassionate as an organization and that’s how we’re able to line up various partners to help us produce that document.
COC: I’ll tell you what, Rich, your passion for what you do really comes through when we sit here and have this conversation about the White Paper. I can tell your heart and soul is into this. You know, I’ve heard it said a couple times the last few days, but Crothall and Morrison, Compass One Healthcare, they were built for this type of situation, weren’t they?
Rich: I think so. I tip my cap to Bobby Kutteh, Tom Racobaldo, and Tim Pierce for having the vision to have an infrastructure in play so that we can build from that infrastructure, make seamless pivots to situations that we find ourselves in today. And a powerful team! Our frontline folks are the best in class, our operational management and leaders in the field are best in class. Again, the power of clean, the power of food, it all makes sense, and we live it every day.