GPdrums || Marathon Drummer

Green People

Posted in Drumming by gpdrums on June 7, 2006

I’ve spent the last two days in hospital observation or emergency rooms. Why? Well, my son fell ill a couple of days ago and my doting wife ended up with the same illness last night. It’s the type of illness where you feel horrible and run to the nearest “facility” so that nature can take it’s course. We’ve all experienced it at one time or another in our lives. If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky and remember, it’s only a matter of time.

My day job involves the management of an environmental program at a health-care facility. I set the procedures and train the individuals performing the work. I have a trained eye when it comes to hospital cleanliness. You can imagine that I couldn’t help but to notice a few things at the two facilities we visited.

Facility number one is owned by a large HMO. Because of the company size you would expect nothing less than perfection. Don’t get me wrong, the place was clean, but the details are what annoyed me the most. A term we often use in health-care facility cleanliness is “fomite.” A fomite is simply defined as anything that harbors a disease causing pathogen. Generally speaking, a dust particle is a fomite.

It’s important that dust not be allowed to dwell in a health-care facility. A daily regimen of disinfecting all horizontal surfaces is the best way to keep a health-care facility clean. I pride myself in the fact that for the type of facility I manage, it’s one of the cleanest in my state. However, I couldn’t help but notice the high dust in facility number one, the television in particular. It was located in an observation room and there was no way that it contained a one day accumulation of dust.

Call me a nit-pick, but I know health-care environmental services. If the television, which everyone stares at for hours on end, has enough dust on it to plant flowers, I wonder whats going on in the corners, under the counters, and on the tops of door closures. I humorously mentioned it to the nurse, whom by the way, actually washed her hands between every task. I also asked her when was the last time the partition curtains had been laundered. All she could do was laugh. She said, “The place is clean, but not as clean as I’d like it to be.” Her partner, also a nurse, then began making excuses, stating, “Well, there’s a lot of dust in our region.” My thought was, “And?”

The next day I had to visit the same observation room for some 5 hours. The television was clean. Hmmm.

Facility number two was quite impressive. It contained state of the art equipment, ultra clean walls, no dust in the vent covers, and was free of offensive odors. But I knew that if I continued to look around I’d find something. Eventually a nurse was replenishing the pillows on the laundry cart. He brought 3 that were individually wrapped in plastic. Impressive. He proceeded to unwrap each pillow and insert them into pillow cases. Then it hit me. No gloves and no gown.

Now back to fomites. This guy brought out three perfectly sanitized pillows that were probably sitting on a shelf with other pillows. The outer plastic was undoubtedly handled by several different people who may or may not have been wearing gloves. People who may have sneezed, grabbed a door handle, wiped the sweat off their brow, then placed the wrapped pillows on the shelf. Anyway, what good is it to wrap pillows and pillow cases, then handle them with your bear hands and unprotected clothing before giving them to patients?

My point in all this is to make you aware of stopping the spread of infectious disease, especially in your own family. Kissing your little one to reassure him or her is nice, but in our case, it resulted in mom becoming just as ill, if not worse. When your loved one is ill, you want to be compassionate, but you have to draw the line. What good is it when the whole family is sick, not able to work, not able to take care of the kids, and not able to even take care of each other?

The one thing we can all do is wash our hands thoroughly all the time. I’m not talking about an obsessive compulsion, I’m talking about common sense. Don’t just get them wet and dry them off. There’s no point in that. You don’t even have to use an antimicrobial soap, just wash for at least 30 seconds then rinse. Use a paper towel to dry and throw it in the trash. Try not to use a hand towel. Then, clean your house. Disinfect your toilets, tubs, and sinks. Wash your linens. Disinfect your trash cans. This is all stuff we can do everyday to help stop viral infections that cause things like diarrhea and vomiting.

What disinfectant should you use? Well that’s up to you. Just make sure you follow the manufacturers instructions and note that in order for disinfecting to happen, there may be a specific contact time of the chemical to the surface. Pay close attention to the label just in case the disinfectant requires that the surface be pre-cleaned in order for it to be effective. Spray and wipe doesn’t really disinfect. Don’t get me started on expensive, pine scented junk that makes a place smell cleaner than it is. A clean place won’t emit any odors at all. Let’s just say that I prefer something you can buy at the grocery store for about $1 per gallon and it goes a long long way at a 1:10 ratio (1 part chemical to 10 parts water).

Anyway, I’m gonna go continue taking care of the green people in my house.



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