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Infection control measures at Clarke County Hospital

Clarke County Hospital has significantly kept infection rates down by using a multi-prong approach. Strategies designed to reduce the spread of infections at the hospital include containment and isolation, hand hygiene, environmental cleanliness, and enforcement of employee health.

Masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment are located at all entrances and available to anyone needing or wanting extra protection. These supplies provide a physical barrier to airborne viruses and other bacteria that can be dispersed from a sneeze or cough. Isolating contagious pathogens is a similar strategy used with inpatients who present with contagious infections. Healthcare workers use gowns, gloves and masks, as indicated, when entering patient rooms to prevent contracting the infection and/or spreading it to others.

A hospital-wide goal was established at CCH in 2012 to meet the highest standards of hand hygiene. Last October, the hospital began a campaign to encourage all staff to practice frequent hand washing and utilize hand sanitizing agents to reduce the spread of infection by contact. Employees encounter frequent reminders to wash their hands regularly, notably before and after contact with patients, before and after eating, using the restroom and handling potentially contaminated objects.

Random hand cultures provided evidence that employees have indeed followed through. October and February results showed compliance rates at 98 percent, far surpassing the national average of 40 percent.

A clean environment is an essential piece in the infection control picture. CCH ranked among the list of the Top 40 Cleanest Hospitals in the U.S. in 2012 by Becker’s Hospital Review. This list compares more than 5,800 hospitals in the nation. The Environmental Services team at CCH works carefully and diligently to maintain the highest standards of cleanliness throughout the facility – surfaces and textiles are sanitized with regular attention to surfaces exposed to hand contact such as door handles, faucet levers, hand rails, and countertops.

Another significant infection control component is making certain employees are free from infectious disease and not carrying contagious disease into the facility.

Employees are encouraged to receive complete, timely and appropriate vaccinations to lower the risk of contamination in the hospital. Infection Control Nurse Deb Goerndt is available to administer vaccinations and provide employees with a plethora of information regarding infectious disease so all are well informed. However, if an employee does become ill with a contagious infection, they are asked to stay home until it is clear that they are no longer infected, as outlined by hospital policy.

“Containing and eliminating bacteria and viruses before they have a chance to spread to others, obviously provides a much healthier healing environment,” Goerndt said. “We are here to provide excellent health care to our patients and that includes keeping them safe from the spread of disease.”

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