Volunteers Fight Hospital Infection
While the fears of H1N1 captured the attention of Palmetto Health and, indeed, the nation last winter, the hospital system used all its resources and talents to tackle the greatest adversary of infection — failure to wash hands. A team of infection control personnel, including environmental workers, communicators and staff from all parts of the hospital developed a comprehensive plan to reduce the possibility of passing along the virus by encouraging hand washing. They focused on getting everyone — clinical staff, visitors, patients, support staff — literally everyone who comes and goes through the doors and halls of our hospital to be sure to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer. "Foam in and foam out" became an operative slogan.
Two Palmetto Health Richland volunteers — Lee Quick and Donna Rouse — were added to the infection control team. These loyal volunteers both have a role in filling approximately 150 hand sanitizer dispensers that were installed at elevators, in lobbies and all public areas throughout the hospital, while Environment Services handled patient areas.
Lee Quick normally volunteers in the Newborn Nursery and the Heart Hospital two days each week. When asked to accept this additional job, she said "gladly." The new job requires lots of exercise and she enjoys seeing people throughout the hospital. "I get lots of appreciation from Environmental Services too," she says.
Donna Rouse already volunteered three days each week. She works on the oncology floor distributing magazines. But, she was willing to say "yes" to the new duty when asked. So, she fans out through the hospital refilling hand sanitizer dispensers in the public spaces of the hospital.
Everyone benefits from their hard work.
"Since the flu season has died down, the dispensers don't empty quite as fast," commented Ms. Quick. "Guess that means that people aren't as concerned about spreading germs...but they are still out there to cause infection of all sorts."
"Hand hygiene is the single most important infection control tool, not only in the hospital but in our daily lives," says Dr. Shawn Stinson, vice president of Quality for Palmetto Health. "I'd love to see these volunteers have to refill every container every week, if we are all doing our job correctly."
Many thanks to our infection control volunteers.