Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Take Care of the Environmen

copy By NOISEmaker donmasai

The environment is the physical surroundings of a place. It's also the combination of conditions that affect growth and development of an organism. Aren't we living organisms? We are all required to take care of our surroundings for the basic reason that we live in the environment and are directly affected by its current state. It's where we get the food we eat, water and other drinks we take, where we sleep and even the air we breathe.

It's paramount that we take care of our environments at every level, starting within our neighborhoods and up to global levels. Past environmental corruption disasters serve as lessons and cautions to us, especially to youth and the children. The vast nuclear disaster at Chernobyl has led to catastrophic effects in the lives of many children. Animals were also affected. Imagine growing up with unsightly deformities, or giving birth to underdeveloped children due to environmental corruption. It's simply saddening. So many ugly incidents have followed in the wake of this specific disaster over a wide area and time.

Another notable effect of environmental degradation faced worldwide is global warming and all the issues caused by it. The ever-increasing temperatures that start forest fires, the sunscalds that cause death, and the sudden dangerous floods caused by El Nino are just a few mega-effects arising due to global warming. The worst is yet to come. So much money is always being spent on environment awareness conventions but little constructive action is taken; it's all empty rhetoric. Meanwhile industries keep emitting toxins in the air; they also just dispose their toxic chemical effluents to the landfills and water bodies to the detriment of the ecosystem. Natural ecosystems are destroyed by human activities; trees are cut for fuel and land cleared for farming and water catchments areas are encroached and in turn destroyed. All these contribute to global warming and destruction of natural surroundings. The aftermaths are appalling. We are simply creating a Godzilla to devour ourselves.

writerinprogress points out, "If we don't do something about this then by the year 2040 we will all be living off a oxygen tanks or 'oxygen drinks'."
"If we don't do something..." [Photo] [Photo] [Photo] Closer to home, cities are not planned, with structures mushrooming forth and withering, noisy industries, bars and even discotheques in residential areas. Poor waste disposal, dumping and littering, and plastics are always strewn all over, posing a major health hazard; yet everybody turns a blind eye and holds their noses in the air. What are we smelling?

So many examples abound of environmental destruction, but of importance are the remedies. Charity begins at home; everyone has a role to play, from our homes to the streets to our schools and even the parks. Let's keep our homes clean and dump the refuse correctly. No one should litter and plastics should be disposed of correctly -- even recycled.

Community initiatives on environment protection should be put into effect. This is where the media sensitizes the public on environment issues. Also non-profits and the public sector should work hand in hand to protect and also educate the public on the environment. The youth too should take the initiative through their schoolwork and club awareness.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

JCAHO Environment of Care Standards


The JCAHO requirements that apply to environmental management programs are described in the management of the environment of care (EC) standards. They are divided into four major parts:

EC.1 - Planning. This group of standards in­cludes a description of design requirements for each of seven required safety and environmental manage­ment programs. Other areas covered include person­nel orientation and education requirements and pro­visions for performance monitoring to evaluate the effectiveness of each management program. Establishment of a no-smoking policy that is communicated and enforced throughout all buildings.

EC.2 - Implement/Teach. These standards generally describe ways in which facilities should be able to demonstrate that they have met the intent of the management programs described in EC.l. Areas in which staff may be asked to explain or demon­strate hospital procedures during a survey are de­tailed. Other topics addressed include: fire drills, emergency drills, maintenance requirements, and safety surveillance.

EC.3 — Other environmental considera­tions. Establishment of a care environment in con­sideration of issues such as the need for appropriate space to support services, preservation of dignity and privacy, and support for patient personal growth is required under the EC.4 standards.

EC.4 – Monitor & Improve. Development and operation of an organization-wide information collection and evaluation system or ICES is required under these standards. The standards also describe the role and responsibilities of the safety officer and a multidisciplinary group such as the safety commit­tee in collecting, assessing, and acting on such infor­mation.

Seven EC Management Programs
The EC standards require appointment of a qualified individual and designation of a committee responsible for managing environment of care. The standards also require the development, implementation, evaluation, and continuous improvement of written management programs for seven major areas:

  • Safety;
  • Security;
  • Hazardous materials and waste;
  • Emergency preparedness;
  • Life safety;
  • Medical equipment; and
  • Utility systems.

Written management plans include: policies and procedures, performance standards, written criteria, and stated goals & objectives. An annual evaluation of the objectives, scope, performance, and effectiveness of each management program also is required. In most cases, the commission will rely on management plans and staff interviews for evidence of compliance, according to the CAMH.

Facility Design
JCAHO requires hospitals to use the National Fire Protection Association’s Life Safety Code® (LSC), 2000 edition (NFPA 101-2000), in designing the envi­ronment of care in both newly constructed and exist­ing facilities. For every building in which patients are treated or housed overnight, a comprehensive Statement of Conditions® that describes the current condition of structural features of fire protection must be submit­ted to the Joint Commission.

In cases where a facility is not in compliance with NFPA 101-2000 and does not have a documented equivalency granted by JCAHO, a written Plan for Improvement is required. The plan should address all LSC® deficiencies identified in the Statement of Conditions®.

The JCAHO EC standards also require that orga­nizations use design criteria referenced by the health care community for new construction, alteration, or renovation of facilities.

Generally, each accredited hospital is required to establish a safety management program. Policies and procedures should be based on experience, com­pliance with applicable laws and regulations, and accepted practices.

A qualified individual, sometimes called a safety officer or director, is to be appointed by the chief executive officer and charged with responsibility to develop, implement, and monitor the safety manage­ment program. A safety or other committee, which includes repre­sentatives of administration, clinical services, and support services, also is to be established to analyze identified EC management issues and develop recom­mendations for resolving them. The safety officer then is required to work with appropriate staff to implement these recommenda­tions and monitor their effectiveness.

Under the EC standards, the safety management plan must describe how the hospital will provide a physical environment that is free of hazards and manage staff activities to reduce the risk of human injury. In addition, the safety management plan must establish a staff orientation and education program that addresses safety issues, program performance, monitoring provisions, and provisions for periodic review.

Under the security standards, accredited hospitals are required to establish and maintain a security management program. The security management plan must establish a staff orientation and education program, program performance monitoring provisions, and provisions for periodic plan review. Emergency security proceduresalso must be es­tablished to address: actions taken in the event of a security incident or failure, handling of civil distur­bances, handling of situations involving VIPs or the media, and provision of additional staff to control human and vehicle traffic in and around the environ­ment of care during disasters.

Hazardous Materials and Waste
A hazardous materials and waste management program is required under the EC standards. The hazardous materials and waste management plan must establish a written staff orientation and education program, program performance monitor­ing provisions, emergency procedures, and proce­dures for plan review.

Emergency Preparedness
Operation of an emergency preparedness manage­ment program is required under the EC standards. The written emergency preparedness plan must identify an alternative source of essential utilities, a backup communication system, facilities for radioac­tive or chemical isolation and decontamination, and alternate roles and responsibilities of personnel. The plan also must establish a written staff orientation and education program, program performance moni­toring provisions, and procedures for plan review.

Life Safety
A life safety management program is required to protect persons and property from fire hazards. The life safety management plan must include provisions for staff orientation and education on life safety issues, program performance monitoring pro­visions, and periodic plan review.

In addition, the plan must establish emergency procedures that address: facility-wide and area-specific fire-response needs, fire evacuation routes, and specific roles and responsibilities of personnel at and away from a fire’s point of origin and in preparing for building evacuation. A written policy must be developed, implemented, and enforced for the use of interim life safety mea­sures to address hazards created by National Fire Protection Association Life Safety Code® deficiencies or construction projects.

Medical Equipment
The medical equipment management program should describe how the organization will establish and maintain a program to promote safe and effec­tive use of medical equipment. The medical equipment plan should cover process­es for selection and acquisition of medical equip­ment. It also should establish criteria for identify­ing, evaluating, and taking inventory of equipment to be included in the program before the equipment is used, as well as for reporting medical equipment incidents to the federal government under the Safe Medical Devices Act.
The medical equipment management plan also should provide for an orientation and education pro­gram, program performance monitoring provisions, emergency procedures, and procedures for plan re­view.

Utility Management
A utility systems management program is re­quired to promote a safe, controlled, comfortable en­vironment of care; assess and minimize risks of utili­ty failures; and ensure operational reliability of util­ity systems.

The utility management plan also should establish an orientation and education program, program per­formance monitoring provisions, emergency proce­dures for systems disruptions or failures, and provi­sions for periodic plan review.

Other Environmental Considerations
The standards under EC.4 require establishment of a care environment that supports the hospital’s basic mission and services. The care environment should support the care process and the needs of the population served by the organization. The stan­dards cover the following four categories:

  • Space - organizations provide appropriate space to support patient services.
  • Human dignity - organiza­tions provide an environment that fosters a positive self-image for the patient and preserves his or her human dignity.
  • Privacy - organizations’ built environment provide appropriate privacy to pa­tients.
  • Interests, shills, and personal growth – organizations provide a built environ­ment that supports the development and mainte­nance of the patient’s interests, skills, and opportu­nities for personal growth when required.

No-Smoking Policy
A no-smoking policy must be communicated and enforced throughout all buildings. Any exceptions to the smoking prohibition must be authorized for a pa­tient by a licensed independent practitioner’s written authorization, based on criteria defined by the medi­cal staff.