For the past decade, Sumeet Facilities Ltd has been providing engineering & maintenance, kitchen/pantry, housekeeping and other services to Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. Dr Ajay Swaroop, Chairman, Board of Management, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and Amit Salunke, CEO & Director, Sumeet Group Enterprises told us how they work together to set expectations and then meet them.
Do you see hospital housekeeping as an expense or an investment?
Dr Swaroop: Prevention is always better than cure. Any hospital-acquired infection is going to increase the length of stay of the patient, which will burden the patient, and is not acceptable to us. It will also burden the hospital by leaving a bed occupied by an ‘old’ patient while newer patients are waiting to get admitted. Hence, the prevention of hospital-acquired infections through hospital cleaning is a cornerstone of our strategy, and I will consider hospital housekeeping an investment in every way.
From a business point of view, how do hospital-acquired infections affect your facility?
Dr Swaroop: A patient who overstays because of a hospital-acquired infection is no longer a source of income, for two reasons. One is that the patient is dissatisfied with the services, and is more resistant to paying their bills. Secondly, since we are a charitable hospital, the moment the bill starts increasing because of a hospital-acquired infection, we prefer to compensate the patient by not charging for high-end antibiotics, reducing bed charges etc. Business-wise, an HAI can be almost catastrophic.
What role does having a continuous and quality power and water supply play in maintaining uninterrupted hospital operations?
Dr Swaroop: With the high-end technology and medical equipment being used these days, it is unthinkable for a continuous source of power to not be available. Our major operations will collapse if there is any interruption in supply, and our ICUs and CCUs would cease to function. Most hospital areas also use RO water; its continuous supply is another cornerstone of good hospital care.
How does SFL use a combination of skilled manpower and tech to ensure maximum uptime of hospital assets and utilities?
Salunke: SFL’s major focus is on training and updating of staff with the latest available cleaning agents, resources and techniques to handle the equipment and assets of the hospital on a regular basis. Every day, our floor supervisor briefs staff before the start of each shift. Our channel partners are always invited for imparting training to supervisors at different intervals.
Hospital staff regularly conduct training for our staff through OEM on a regular basis. We work closely on the preventive and corrective maintenance of all assets. Our weekly review of inventory and prompt action on complaints along with the cooperation between our staff and the hospital administration makes everything possible.
What kind of nutrition and hygiene standards does food served to patients need to match?
Dr Swaroop: Firstly, the FSSAI inspects the kitchen to ensure that all hygiene controls are in place. Any deficiency in the hygiene of cooking, packing and delivery of food to the patient will have undesirable results.
We have a full-fledged dietary department where the dietitians are always curating a regular diet for various types of patients. We have different diets being catered to by the kitchen: diabetic diet, hypertensive diet, paediatric diet and so on. This is a highly specialised task and is not just about making rice and rotis.
Our kitchen is almost like a five-star hotel kitchen, with a qualified chef and a qualified F&B manager who are always trying to improve food service for patients.
How does SFL meet the challenge of serving hundreds of customised, nutritious meals on time?
Salunke: We work in close coordination with hospital dieticians and F&B staff. Our pantry staff are in regular touch with the nursing staff and the patient to understand their dietary requirements. The hospital has a fixed schedule for food services to the patient, and we plan accordingly. In case the patient is not available at mealtimes, their food is either safely stored or supplied as per the instructions of the nursing staff or on demand.
How are the kitchen and pantry areas kept clean?
Salunke: The pantry area is cleaned after every serving and deep cleaning is done after dinner service. The cleaning is done by using a cleaning agent supplied by the hospital and a steam cleaner. The food trolleys are cleaned on a daily basis and pest treatment is done on a weekly basis.
Other than clinical areas, in a hospital this large, there must be many doctor’s offices, back offices and administrative areas as well. How do you view the cleaning and hygiene of these areas in terms of the occupational health of healthcare workers?
Dr Swaroop: That is a very valid point, and this may be one area where we need to put in even more effort. The fact is that the hospital is being developed piecemeal, which means that without stopping hospital operations, we are adding more rooms and more people. We need to concentrate on the hygiene of the back end areas as well.
Hospital washrooms are high-traffic areas. How do you ensure they don’t pose a health risk?
Salunke: Our deployed team has been directed to keep all washrooms dry with instructions for cleaning after every single use.
How has your relationship with SFL been?
Dr Swaroop: I have been part of the administration for 10 years, and have been interacting with SFL people since outsourcing was part of my domain. I can say with full confidence that these 10 years have been very pleasant.
Previously, we had other vendors, but there were many glitches and communication gaps. With SFL, we have not had any problems. Their services are excellent, they are very progressive and are always trying to upgrade their services. They’ve given us good suggestions to upgrade our operations and facilities, which I think is the basis of a good partnership.