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Infection prevention in everyone's hands

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gov. Murkowski has proclaimed this week as International Infection Prevention Week.

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Every year more than 33 million Americans are admitted to hospitals, with many undergoing medical procedures that have a risk of infectious complications. Such health care-associated infections increase morbidity and mortality and add a significant burden to the cost of health care. The Alaska Chapter of Infection Prevention and Control Professionals is devoted to patient and health care worker safety and works to address statewide infection control issues with members from all corners of the state, including Juneau and Bartlett Regional Hospital.

Patients at Bartlett Regional Hospital have every right to expect the finest care during their hospital stay: Courtesy, confidentiality, safety, expert skill and care and professionalism.

Protecting patients from infection is a patient safety concern and a top priority at Bartlett and requires a team effort. All staff at Bartlett Regional Hospital receive specialized training and have a role in preventing the spread of infection: Nurses, doctors, lab employees, housekeepers, maintenance workers, dietary staff, volunteers and all staff, without exception. But health care employees aren't the only ones who play a major role.

Soon visitors to Bartlett Regional Hospital will be asked to do their part to help prevent the spread of infection. Bartlett is joining a nationwide initiative designed to inform hospital visitors about their role in infection prevention.

Every year hundreds of visitors enter our doors to visit patients or to accompany them to receive emergency or outpatient services. Here are some guidelines we will ask all visitors to follow to help protect our patients:

Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before entering and when leaving a patient's room.

Expect our staff to clean their hands before patient care. It's OK to remind them if they forget.

Cover your sneeze or cough with a tissue or your upper arm.

Do not visit if you are sick.

Avoid touching anything used to care for the patient.

Read and follow any instructions posted outside the patient's room.

Eliminate germs when the patient goes home by using disinfectants, such as sprays and wipes, to clean surfaces often.

Help celebrate Infection Prevention Week by getting your flu shot, washing your hands frequently, covering your coughs and sneezes and doing your part to help prevent the spread of infection at home, at school, in the workplace and in the hospital.

Jan Beauchamp

Infection control coordinator

Bartlett Regional Hospital

Juneau



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