Insight Blog

Undervalued Role of EVS in Health Facilities

Undervalued Role of EVS in Health Facilities Our previous Insight blog post, Three Takeaways from Health Facilities 2019 Salary Survey, summarized findings from ASHE’s (the American Society for Health Care Engineering) biennial survey released in its publication, Health Facilities Management. The professionals who responded to the survey held roles in facilities, construction, and environmental services (EVS).

While facilities and construction managers reported significant increases in salary over the 2017 survey, only a 3% salary increase was reported by EVS managers. The average staff compensation was $32,417, which is 34% of the average staff compensation in construction. Considering that a facility’s environment is crucial to health and safety, as well as to patient confidence, EVS roles are noticeable undervalued. Not only do EVS employees need an understanding of water-quality and ventilation standards and how to handle bloodborne pathogens and biomedical waste, but a knowledge of OSHA and HIPPA laws.

Pam Toppel, an environmental services regional manager, explained that the role of EVS is much more complex than it was 10 years ago. As quoted within the ASHE magazine feature article, “EVS management competencies have expanded, and the front line needs base technical skills and knowledge of infection prevention and microbiology.” She emphasized that if an EVS program is to be successful, the entire team must be competent.

Management may have an added challenge with the addition of contract EVS employees. Some organizations choose to outsource these positions to save on labor costs or liability insurance and to eliminate the time needed for hiring and training. According to a 2018 Black Book Research survey, 98% of hospital leaders were considering whether to work with third-party vendors. The downside is that EVS managers can be held accountable for actions of personnel they did not hire and who do not report to them. EVS employees should have a sense of loyalty to an organization and its mission for safety and patient satisfaction.

Helbling Managing Director of the Mid-Atlantic region Tom Dunn has represented a world-renowned academic medical center searching for leaders of environmental care. He said, “The reality is that EVS staff can be more public and patient-facing than people realize. They interact with hospital staff, patients, and families on a daily basis, but there is often a lack of importance placed on these roles in terms of resource allocation, recruitment, training, and development. EVS is a difficult and unglamorous function of facilities operations, but it can directly impact patient satisfaction, health, and safety—for better or worse.”

Dunn cited training and development of staff as a necessary action in garnering the attention that EVS roles deserve. As an example, the Association for the Health Care Environment (AHE) offers a Certified Health Care Environmental Services Professional (CHESP) designation. ASHE survey respondents who earned it reported a 28% increase in average managerial salary. Toppel pointed out that professionals in possession of these, or like credentials, demonstrate the value of the knowledge and skills required to perform the work, as well as pride in the work being performed.

Director of AHE Patti Costello believes EVS managers’ salaries will increase due to added responsibilities and importance and agrees with the use of certification to bring more value to the roles. “Demonstrating you’re qualified through credentialing is a key first step.” She added, “We expect the pay scale to change, but we need to step up and just do it.”

As search consultants who work extensively with healthcare institutions in securing facilities managers and related professionals, we understand the importance of EVS. We see this field becoming increasingly recognized for the role it plays in quality care and patient health, safety, and satisfaction.