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Farnek Avireal, a joint venture between Avireal AG of Switzerland and the Khalifa Juma Al Nabooda Group, is a leading provider of total facilities management in the Middle East, specialising in the consulting and operating of commercial and complex building facilities. Its services range from cleaning to security and technical maintenance in various sectors including the critical field of healthcare. One cannot stress enough the importance of managing healthcare facilities, which is a huge, complex and ever-changing field, particularly in terms of how care is delivered. Andrea Deutschbein, manager of Farnek Avireal’s Cleaning Division, speaks to Clean Middle East magazine about their operations in the region and the challenges in the healthcare sector.
CME: Citing examples, tell us about your facilities management operations in healthcare settings in the UAE.
FAV: We supply facility management services to the a number of health care units which include: GMC clinics with different locations in Dubai; the German Heart Centre in Dubai; German Centre for Neurology in Dubai and Emirates International Hospital in Al Ain.
In your opinion, how different is managing a healthcare facility from managing an ordinary facility?
In an ordinary facility, the primary objective is general cleaning, eradicating dirt as well as unpleasant odours - thus maintaining the visual appeal. A healthcare facility involves a more detailed and thorough process. Not only does the property need to be free from unpleasant odours and visually appealing, it also needs to be:
- Thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to inhibit growth of germs and pathogens.
- Properly managed and executed to avoid cross contamination between the patients, staff and visitors. The worst thing that can happen is for a patient to get sicker due to hospital acquired infections.
- Waste management and segregation has to be precise and frequent.
- Proper management of bio-hazard spills e.g. blood spills, vomit, mercury spills etc.
Adequately trained staff in specialised hospital cleaning and protocols. The cleaning staff must also be mentally prepared to handle traumatic situations and people as they also clean during operations in theatres (op room, maternity wards, mortuaries).
Looking at any of your healthcare projects, what do you single out as the biggest challenge in managing a healthcare facility; and how do you address such a challenge?
This is a very important question. The biggest challenge in the healthcare cleaning management is operating effectively within tight budgets. There have been cases where the company hired for the job of healthcare cleaning, uses substandard materials and equipment, untrained staff and with total disregard to protocols and procedures.
However companies with trained personnel, offering professional services with approved chemicals, materials and equipment, using very stringent protocols to build and maintain high standards do not have a chance as the price question is far below expectations. The hospitals have to be specific on setting a high standard of cleaning and be willing to pay the price for the high quality service.
At the moment health authorities are striving towards a common standard for all hospitals throughout the UAE. A good example of standardisation is the Emirates International Hospital in Al Ain, who in conjunction with Farnek Avireal, has just passed the JCI (Joint Commission International) accreditation. Thanks to our closed prepared mop system, whereby all our colour coded microfiber mops and microfiber clothes are disinfected and dosed with the exact required chemicals, then sterile packed in our laundry rooms and delivered to the hospital with specifications indicating which part of the hospital it is to be used in. The mops and clothes are used only once on one surface and then immediately put into a laundry bag and transported back to our laundry department, this means a zero chance of cross contamination.
As an FM specialist contracted to maintain a healthcare facility, what should be given the first priority: the patient, the building or operational costs?
Patients of course come first. We have specific procedures in place like the colour coded cleaning products to minimise any contaminations that could jeopardize a patient’s health. Second would be the cleanliness of the building, and finally the operational costs.
What measures are you taking to improve indoor air management and reduce infection control in this hospital?
Farnek Avireal is a total facility management company and works with approved contractors for air duct cleaning, as well as having an in-house water tank cleaning and disinfection department. We therefore have the capability to measure the hospital’s air and water quality using approved government standards in liaison with the hospital’s HSQE department and infection control officer. Furthermore, we only use microfiber textile with very high dust attraction and capture quantities, thus minimising the movement of dust around the hospital.
Do you have any special computer-aided FM software that you are using when managing healthcare settings?
We use state of the art software to plan, manage and measure performance, quality and productivity as well as chemical usage.