As We Recognize Hand Hygiene Day, More Than Ever, Healthcare Facilities Need Comprehensive Hand Hygiene Programs
By Clete Campbell
Today, our hands are the most important instruments to the world’s health.
Clean hands are the best chance for ourselves, our families, our neighbors, our communities, our state and nation to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Never before in modern history has maintaining strong hand hygiene been so important and essential.
We have the power, we have the tools, we have the opportunity to save countless lives by simply keeping our hands clean. We are the key to our country beating COVID-19.
For example, re-committing and improving your healthcare or business facility’s hand hygiene measures and protocols during COVID-19 will remarkably make your workplace safer for your staff, patients and visitors. Even before COVID-19 descended on the United States with a sickly wrath, the U.S. was averaging 80,000 deaths from healthcare-associated infections (HAI) per year. The U.S.’s final HAI death total this year is heartbreakingly likely to triple or quadruple that average. For healthcare centers and businesses, the three key components of strong hand hygiene policy and practices are:
- Hygiene Training
- Hygiene Tools and Hand Sanitizer Dispenser Placement
For patients, reassurance that their healthcare facility promotes and practices strong hand hygiene is a great reassurance for their personal wellbeing and health during these uncertain times. A study by MC Sciences’ Infection Control Today shows more than 8 in 10 patients state that the presence of hand hygiene signage alone makes them feel more confident about a facility’s cleanliness and its quality of care.
“As communities move into the next phase of COVID-19, healthcare organizations must keep hand hygiene top of mind in all environments to ensure patient and employee safety, and to ultimately reduce the risk of cross-contamination and HAIs,” MC Sciences’ Deborah Chung writes.
Today in America’s hospitals, health clinics and nursing homes, courageous front-line workers are saving the lives of at-risk patients with first class care and smart hand hygiene practices.
“Hand hygiene contributes significantly to keeping patients safe,” the WHO states in its Clean Care Is Safer Care campaign for 2020’s Hand Hygiene Day on May 5. “It is a simple, low-cost action to prevent the spread of many of the microbes that cause health care-associated infections. While hand hygiene is not the only measure to counter HAI, compliance with it alone can dramatically enhance patient safety, because there is much scientific evidence showing that microbes causing HAI are most frequently spread between patients on the hands of health-care workers.”
But having available hand sanitizers available in all patient rooms, operating rooms, offices, social gathering areas and high traffic hallways is essential to maintaining staff, patient, resident and guest safety. As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, on average healthcare providers clean their hands less than half of the times they should. On any given day before COVID-19 hit the U.S. by storm in late February, one in 31 hospital patients had at least one-HAI.
“Practicing hand hygiene is a simple yet effective way to prevent infections,” the CDC stresses. “Cleaning your hands can prevent the spread of germs, including those that are resistant to antibiotics and are becoming difficult, if not impossible, to treat.”
The WHO’s Hand Hygiene Goals for the planet this year are:
- Make Hand Hygiene A Global Priority
- Inspire Hand Hygiene and Behavior Change
- Engage With Health Care Workers In Their Role In Clean Care And The Prevention Of Infections
For as the WHO notes in its COVID-19 Myth Busters Information Kit, “the best way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is to keep at least 1 meter away from others and wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.”
These challenging and dangerous times require us all to make a personal call to action to practice smart hand hygiene for the sake of ourselves, our family, our friends, our neighbors, our communities and our country.
For the key to establishing a COVID-19 contained or, hopefully, a COVID-19-free America is in our hands.