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clean food service areas, and properly cleaned and disinfected surgical areas can still have problems with patients contracting HAIs.

Sometimes the cause has nothing to do with the cleanliness of the hospital. There have been cases where malfunctioning HVAC systems were dispersing germs and bacteria. For someone that is healthy and with a more stable immune system, the airborne germs and bacteria may have no impact. But for someone that is ill and recovering in a hospital, these airborne pathogens may be all that is needed to make them seriously ill.

Can You Think Yourself Sick? HAIs are serious and real, but now we have a new thing to consider when it comes to HAIs. A study presented in a white paper by Press Ganey, which provides medical facilities with patient experience measurements and performance analytics, reports that researchers have found a correlation between patients that ‘think’ the medical facility they are using is not cleaned thoroughly and the acquiring of hospital infections.

More specifically, according to the white paper, there is ‘a clear correlation between patients’ perception of cleanliness [in a hospital] . . . and the incidence of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C.diff),’ both serious illnesses that can be acquired by patients in a hospital.

Patients were asked a series of questions in an assessment of the healthcare provider. These questions ranged from how often their room and bathroom were kept clean to more serious questions such as if the patient was satisfied or unsatisfied, comfortable or uncomfortable, with the appearance of rooms in which medical procedures were performed or with the equipment used in these procedure rooms.

The white paper reported the following: “Hospitals that scored in the highest quintile for cleanliness had, on average, the lowest number of reported [HAI] infections. Similarly,

hospitals where patients reported lower cleanliness scores tended toward the higher infection rates.”

Those patients who believed that cleanliness was not up to par in the medical facilities made comments to the researchers such as: “If they can’t keep the hospital clean, what other things that I can’t see might also be neglected?” This essentially is the ‘thought’ perception that patients developed about these hospitals. While the white paper did not state whether or not the hospitals perceived

evaluate cleanliness. • Establish cleaning best practices.

• Recognise the important role that housekeeping departments (known in hospitals as environmental services) play in the cleanliness of hospitals.

• Make consistent assessments and improvements in how the facility is cleaned, especially when it comes to preventing the spread of infection.

Stopping the Mop to

Stop HAIs Some manufacturers in the professional cleaning industry have helped medical facilities, as well as schools and a host of other types of locations, address this last point specifically. One way the Women and Children’s Hospital in Charleston, West Virginia, (US) tackled its HAI problem was to stop mopping floors. Yes, you read that correctly: it stopped mopping floors.

“Researchers have found a

correlation between patients tat ‘tink’ te medical facility tey are using

is not cleaned toroughly and te acquiring of hospital infections.”

as poorly maintained were indeed less clean — thus making it more likely for a HAI to occur — what the researchers did find is that, just by the patients believing that the hospital is not well maintained, HAI numbers do increase.

How to Change Perceptions Fortunately, the white paper did offer some recommendations to hospital administrators that could help prevent patients from believing facilities are not hygienically cleaned and maintained. Among the white paper’s suggestions were the following:

• Implement ongoing audits to

This hospital became aware of studies that found that mopping floors can actually spread contaminants. And because we have as many as 50 direct and indirect contacts with floors every day, if a floor is contaminated, the chances it can spread disease via cross-contamination are high, and this can have very serious consequences.

According to Donald Hammons, Housekeeping Services Manager at the hospital, in place of mopping floors, the hospital turned to Kaivac No-Touch cleaning systems. Using these systems, metered amounts of chemical are applied to floors as well as walls, counters, and scores of other surfaces. The same areas are then rinsed and the soils and moisture vacuumed up, completely removing the contaminants from the area cleaned.

“We found the [no-touch cleaning system] to be much more thorough than using traditional cleaning tools,” said Hammons. “But what is most important, we have found a way to effectively remove — not spread — contaminants from our hospital floors.” - 19 -

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