It takes more than the doctors and nurses to care for the hospital’s more than 300+ patients at any given time. In this segment, brought to you in partnership with Edward-Elmhurst Health, we introduce you to different staff members at Edward Hospital and spotlight their various departments.
The Sterilization Process
The Central Sterile Processing (or “CSP”) unit of Edward Hospital is responsible for cleaning and sterilizing all equipment needed for surgeries and procedures throughout the hospital, including for labor and delivery, the operating room, and emergency department. Manager of CSP, Donna Preisler, describes sterilization as the process of “removing all microorganisms and bioburden from an object.” In other words, it prevents tools from spreading infections.
“That entails going through the decontamination process in which all gross soil is removed,” said Preisler. “After the gross soil is removed, it goes through what is called a washer-decontaminator.” That item appears to be a large washing machine that cleans a few carts of equipment at a time for about an hour at 215 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the items are not sterilized yet at this point.
The instruments are taken from the washer and set aside to cool. Once cooled, a technician will reassemble a tray of items according to a “recipe” provided on a computer screen. The tray is then put inside a metal case, along with a tag that indicates whether or not the items inside have been sterilized. Once several cases are loaded and ready, they then go inside yet another large machine that sterilizes each instrument, removing any additional bacteria and microorganisms that could otherwise cause infection.
The entire process can take at least three hours, if not more, for each case. Thousands of instruments are cleaned, sterilized and prepared in this manner every day. It’s a 24-7 job that requires a lot of teamwork and organization.
“To do this job, you have to be very responsible and have to be feel passionate about it,” said technician, Gabriela Gonzalez.
Once Ready for use
Once a case of surgical instruments are ready for use, it’s added to a case cart, which can hold multiple cases at a time. Many patients’ procedures often require multiple cases, sometimes containing hundreds of tools used by the surgeons. As the Central Sterile Processing team assembles these carts, cases are scanned, much like items at a grocery store, which logs all the items inside into a computer to keep track of which operating room they are being sent to and for which patient. After everything is scanned, the entire cart of cases is rolled onto an elevator and upstairs for use.
“My favorite part of my day is knowing that I’m doing something good for the patients,” said Gonzalez.
“We have their [patients’] safety in the forefront of everything we do,” said Preisler.
Other Department Staff Spotlights: