New Brunswick

Horizon's 3 largest hospitals aren't clean enough, report says

Horizon Health Network's three largest hospitals all failed cleanliness audits earlier this month, according to a team of Ontario-based experts.

Saint John Regional Hospital's patient rooms scored an average of 68 per cent in cleanliness

Horizon Health Network is promising to do better after an outside audit showed big problems with cleanliness in its hospitals. Its three largest hospitals all failed cleanliness audits earlier this month, according to a team of Ontario-based experts.

Andrea Seymour, a vice-president with the Horizon Health Network, said the authority will address concerns raised by an Ontario-based consultant. (CBC)
Horizon Health released the results of cleanliness audits conducted by Ontario's Niagara Health Services during a board meeting in Moncton on Wednesday.

The cleanliness target is 85 per cent or higher and each of the three largest hospitals fell short of that mark.

The Saint John Regional Hospital's patient rooms scored an average of 68 per cent cleanliness.

We know we need to have better training programs, better ongoing training on new products.- Andrea Seymour, Horizon Health

The Moncton Hospital fared slightly better with a 70 per cent average, while the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton got a score of 78 per cent.

The regional health authority requested that the Hamilton-based health district do a cleanliness audit after receiving several complaints. 

The Ontario experts performed 19-point inspections, which included taking bacteria swabs in patient rooms.

Dust was the main issue, but there were also concerns with the beds, floors and furniture.

Chelsea Millers says the findings surprised her.

"Cleanliness-wise it seemed like they were pretty on top of it," she said. 

Christina Ferris agreed.

"It's been really clean. There's been nothing on the floor it always smells good up there," she said.

The biggest problems were seen at Moncton Hospital. The emergency room scored well below the standard at just 55 per cent, Chalmers hospital came in at 68 per cent. The brand new Saint John Regional exceeded the standard with a mark of 87 per cent. Staff there also use a different cleaning system than the other hospitals. 

Andrea Seymour, Horizon's chief operating officer and vice-president corporate, said staff training will be stepped up in light of this report.

"We know we need to have better training programs, better ongoing training on new products," she said.

Earlier this month, CBC News obtained photos of a dirty hospital room at the Saint John Regional Hospital.

Seymour admitted the photos showed it was not keeping its facilities clean.

She suggested aging hospitals, a lack of training and — possibly — a shortage of supervisors to inspect rooms and work with cleaning staff were to blame.

Cleanliness of ERs examined

There were some highlights for the Horizon Health Network in the report.

Patient rooms at the Saint John Regional Hospital received a 68 per cent grade for its cleanliness, below the 85 per cent target set by experts from Ontario's Niagara Health Services. (CBC)
When examining the cleanliness of the emergency room at the Saint John Regional Hospital, the consultant found that part of the hospital exceeded Niagara's health standards.

The emergency room achieved 100 per cent in several tests. 

The other hospitals that were audited, meanwhile, fell short in the same tests.

Overall, only 22 per cent of the areas tested by Niagara Health Services, throughout the health authority's largest hospitals, met the 85 percent goal.

The biggest concern areas for the hospitals are dust, the cleanliness of doorknobs, waste-baskets and floors.

Horizon's response begins this week with the launch of a 30-day action plan.

These results are in keeping with other recent surveys and concerns about the authority's hospitals.

A recent Horizon survey of patients also found 40 per cent were not satisfied with the condition of their rooms, officials said.

Last year, retired nurse Penny Ericson spoke out about Fredericton's Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital, after her husband spent time there before his death. 

Ericson identified a long list of problems with nursing care and cleanliness at the hospital.