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CS CONNECTION


islation spent the first term educating elected officials on the role of CS/SPD. They are now shaping the legisla- tion and moving it forward during the third year. While most states do not require CS/SPD technician certification at this time, many healthcare facilities are taking the matter into their own hands and requiring it of their CS/SPD employees. For example, Jewish Hospital & University of Louisville Hospital’s CS/SPD department, which was named the Healthcare Purchasing News 2016 SPD Department of the Year, requires all of its employees to earn their Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) certification within the first 12 months of the hire date (read Jewish SPD bolsters package deal within regional IDN in the May 2016 issue of HPN). “The impact of a ‘certification culture’ in


Jo M. Wood


a department can be earth shaking, send- ing positive shockwaves into every corner of surgical services,” said Weston “Hank” Balch, CRCST, CIS, CHL, Director of Sterile Processing Operations for Jewish Hospital & University of Louisville Hospital. “Physi- cians see a commitment to growth in your CS team, nurses and surgical technicians notice the level of professional communication rise among your staff, and the patient ultimately gets a higher and more consistent standard of care with every instrument set. Every hour spent pursuing certification and CS education pays dividends in safe, high quality OR minutes. And that’s a lan- guage our C-suite and broader community can understand.” According to Stephen M. Kovach, Direc-


Weston “Hank” Balch


tor of Education for Healthmark Industries, certification of staff members who reprocess medical devices is the first step towards being consid- ered a professional. “What amazes me some-


times is that many who work in the field feel that a state must require they be certi- fied before they will take that step, where others realize the importance of certification as it shows they have taken upon themselves to let everybody know that they take pride in saying, ‘I am certified,’” said Kovach. Speaking on the professional value of certi-


Stephen M. Kovach


fication, Joel Benge, CRCST, CIS, CHL, OR Li- aison for Sterile Processing, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare in Louisville, Ky states: “Being triple-certified as a sterile pro- cessing technician lends me a great deal of


credibility within my own department and amongst the OR staff. The education I have received allows me to communicate profession- ally and technically (when needed) with my peers and with the OR. Each day when I interact with OR staff, I am dealing with certified, educated individuals who know his/her given field. I can more effectively gain their trust and respect — and I can more effectively meet their needs and answer ques- tions — when I am also a certified, educated expert in my own field.”


Joel Benge


Industry support Thomas Overbey, Director of Marketing for Ultra Clean Systems, encourages CS/SPD professionals to get involved in certification efforts on the state level. He also urges manufacturers to support state CS/SPD legis- lative efforts as well. “The days of certification


are coming — it’s just a mat- ter of when,” said Overbey. “Don’t wait for the ‘when’ — go ahead and make this the best process you can today because it’s all about patient safety. CS/SPD professionals shouldn’t lead the certification charge alone. Industry also needs to get involved. My per- sonal goal is to help steer Florida to become the next certified state.” In the state of Tennessee, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris and Shawn M. Flynn, Co-Founder/SVP of Customer Operations for Restore Medical Solutions, carried out a campaign that led to passing of Senate Bill 2581, which requires new central sterile technicians entering the profession to pass a nationally accred- ited central sterile exam. All central service technicians, whether grandfathered in or not, are required to com- plete a minimum of 10 hours of continuing education annually. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed the bill on April 27, 2016, and it goes into effect on January 1, 2017. “When Senator Norris and I were discuss-


Thomas Overbey


Shawn M. Flynn


ing the background of the OR-SPD relation- ship, the Senator quickly understood that there was a ‘gap’ in the circle of care and that we could impact positive change through legislation,” said Flynn. “Advocacy, in my opinion, begins with creating that spark nec- essary to accomplish the change you desire. Our current and future patients depend on industry professionals and subject matter experts having the specialized skills neces-


38 July 2016 • HEALTHCARE PURCHASING NEWS • hpnonline.com


sary to aid in combating HAIs/SSIs. They also need to be vigilant in raising the bar for central sterile technicians.”


Building a CS/SPD career ladder Many feel it is important to take a step back and build a better support network for those entering CS/SPD, in addition to those already working in the profession. Wood explains how it is difficult to attract and retain talented CS/SPD technicians because many young people don’t know the field exists, the career ladder is not well defined and the profession is underrated. “Every hospital has its own CS career path


and it varies widely,” said Wood. “You end up with people who make great techs but then they want to grow out of CS and go someplace else because there is no line of sight for advancement. You can only have so many managers in the world so where do you go from there? How do you keep those quality people within the profession? More and more as people begin to accept CS as part of the surgical team — and I think required certification bills are going to help that — people will be a little more inclined to seriously consider CS as a career path.” Another challenge according to Wood is


that many healthcare facilities do not employ a formal CS/SPD educator. Furthermore, those in educator roles have limited resources at their disposal to train their staff members. “My facility has a very robust CS train-


ing program, but while I was attending the IAHCSMM conference this year, I discovered not every department has someone in the educator position. So who does that work fall to? You can train on the fly but it may be more difficult to be proactive. Speaking as an educator myself, there is no formal training available for CS educators. I have to go out there and find the information myself and determine the best way to teach it out to our team. I’ve thought about taking college courses for classroom teachers but they don’t correspond well to our role.” Balch points out that while the model of a dedicated CS/SPD educator is successful in many contexts, CS/SPD front-line technicians must become “continual self-educators” and certification supports this. He states: “What certification brings to the table is the


ability to spread out this expertise to every team member in the department, so each individual can become competent enough to hold an in-service on how to inspect bi- polar forceps or train each other in process improvement techniques,” said Balch. “Suc- cessful onboarding programs for CS depart- ments should include a certification study component that allows technicians who are not already certified to prepare for the exam


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