Saving lives with soap and water
"Step up to the pump, and suds up," says Terry Price, RN, as she points to the sink and soap. A nurse in infection Control and Prevention at Virtua Memorial, Price refers to a Virtua initiative that mandates hand-washing for all employees, before and after leaving a patient's room. It's called the "No Harms/Zero Tolerance Initiative for Hospital Acquired Infection" to prevent hospital-acquired infection. In addition, alcohol-gel washing stations are placed throughout the hospital where sinks are not available.
Why all the hand washing hoopla? Research shows that simple hand washing kills bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA and therefore prevents infections that make patients desperately ill. And, for patients in intensive care whose immune systems may be compromised, MRSA puts them at risk for serious medical complications.
Hand washing is part of a lifesaving formula of proper gloving, gowning, and equipment disinfection that applies to everyone from nurses and physicians to food servers and case managers. Everyone - including visitors - must wash their hands before and after patient contact 100 percent of the time.
"People might be used to washing their hands after patient contact," explains Price. "But that is not enough. We need to remember that washing before patient contact is just as important."
To help people make this adjustment, Memorial is using "secret shoppers." These Virtua employees from other departments gently remind everyone to comply with the initiatives.
"Aggressive prevention protocols, MRSA monitoring and clinical safety and outcome measures are now in place for optimal MRSA control in all areas of the hospital and developing in the community," explains Martin Topiel, MD,
Virtua's Infection Control Officer. Safety first is what the zero tolerance initiative is all about.
Anti-bacterial gel is also helping in the fight against infection. These pumps are now outside every patient room, hospital bathroom, utility room, and lunchroom - wherever there are employees and visitors - and wherever MRSA might be lurking.
As one of New Jersey’s largest health systems, Virtua helps people be well, get well and stay well through a comprehensive range of health care services. Services are delivered through three health and wellness centers, three fitness centers, four acute care hospitals, primary and specialty physician practices with more than 240 physicians, urgent care centers, seven ambulatory surgery centers, home health services, two long-term care and rehabilitation centers, 12 paramedic units and a wide range of outpatient services. A leader in maternal and child health services, Virtua delivers more than 8,000 babies a year. Virtua also provides employment and wellness services to 1,700 businesses and corporations. An innovator in clinical and information technology such as electronic medical records, Virtua is recognized for its ground-breaking partnerships with GE Healthcare
, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
and the Fox Chase Cancer Center
. It is the official orthopedic provider for the Philadelphia Flyers
. Virtua employs more than 8,400 people and has been honored as the #1 Best Place to Work in the Delaware Valley for seven consecutive years. It is the recipient of the Consumer Choice Award from the National Research Corporation. For more information, visit www.virtua.org