NeoCLEAN: a multimodal strategy to enhance environmental cleaning in a resource-limited neonatal unit
Abstract Background Contamination of the hospital environment contributes to neonatal bacterial colonization and infection. Cleaning of hospital surfaces and equipment is seldom audited in resource-limited settings. Methods A quasi-experimental study was conducted to assess the impact of a multimodal cleaning intervention for surfaces and equipment in a 30-bed neonatal ward. The intervention included cleaning audits with feedback, cleaning checklists, in-room cleaning wipes and training of staff and mothers in cleaning methods. Cleaning adequacy was evaluated for 100 items (58 surfaces, 42 equipment) using quantitative bacterial surface cultures, adenosine triphosphate bioluminescence assays and fluorescent ultraviolet markers, performed at baseline (P1, October 2019), early intervention (P2, November 2019) and late intervention (P3, February 2020). Results Environmental swabs (55/300; 18.3%) yielded growth of 78 potential neonatal pathogens with Enterococci, S. marcescens, K. pneumoniae, S. aureus and A. baumannii predominating. Highest aerobic colony counts were noted from moist surfaces such as sinks, milk kitchen surfaces, humidifiers and suction tubing. The proportion of surfaces and equipment exhibiting no bacterial growth increased between phases (P1 = 49%, P2 = 66%, P3 = 69%; p = 0.007). The proportion of surfaces and equipment meeting the ATP “cleanliness” threshold (< 200 relative light units) increased over time (P1 = 40%, P2 = 54%, P3 = 65%; p = 0.002), as did the UV marker removal rate (P1 = 23%, P2 = 71%, P3 = 74%; p < 0.001). Conclusion Routine environmental cleaning of this neonatal ward was sub-optimal at baseline but improved significantly following a multimodal cleaning intervention. Involving mothers and nursing staff was key to achieving improved environmental and equipment cleaning in this resource-limited neonatal unit.