Infection Control Week – It’s In Your Hands

Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) today launched Infection Control Week, reminding people that washing their hands regularly and well, is one of the most simple and effective ways to protect against everyday illnesses such as colds and more serious conditions such as flu or salmonella.

Your hands are the most common way for germs to spread. By regularly and effectively washing your hands, or using a hand sanitizer, germs can be killed before they make someone ill. Even antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, such as MRSA, can be killed by hand washing.

“At home, work and in the hospital, our hands continuously pick up germs from touching objects and people, or by sneezing into our palms,” notes Linda Rothwell, an Infection Control Practitioner at BHB. “Washing your hands regularly and properly is the best way for you to prevent the spread of illnesses, especially as we head into the cold and flu season.”

Anti-bacterial hand soaps are not necessary for effective hand washing – but a proper technique, along with regular soap and warm water, or a hand sanitizer is needed. Ensure all areas are rubbed vigorously – palms, along and between fingers and the back of the hands. You should keep washing for about 15 seconds (or the time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice). It is the soap combined with the friction that dislodges and removes germs.

Janice DeSilva, Infection Control Practitioner at BHB adds: “Healthcare workers are not the only ones who play a major role in infection prevention. Every year thousands of visitors and patients enter our doors, and not all are aware of the steps they can take to prevent the spread of infection. Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) is joining an international initiative, and is kicking off a campaign to educate staff, patients, and visitors on their role in preventing the spread of infection-both in the hospital and at home.”

Infection Control Week will be officially launched by the Acting Minister of Health and Family Services, who will read a Proclamation at 11:00 a.m. in the KEMH lobby. The campaign is kicking off with a fair entitled “Protect Our Patients”. In addition, there will be displays in the lobbies of both KEMH and the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute for the remainder of the week highlighting the importance of hand hygiene, covering sneezes and coughs, and the importance of reading and following any instructions posted outside a patient’s room.

Handy Facts:

• One of the most common ways you catch colds is by rubbing your nose or eyes after touching someone or something that’s contaminated with the cold virus (rhinovirus)

• Germs can live for a long time (some can live for months) on surfaces like doorknobs, desks and tables

• Effective hand washing is the most effective means to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses which cause infection and food borne illnesses, such as:
o Cold virus
o Flu virus
o Hepatitis A
o Samonella
o E.coli
o MRSA (Methicilline Resistant Staphylococcus Aureaus)

• Stop the spread:
o Wash your hands well and regularly
o Sneeze into a tissue. If you don’t have a tissue, use your arm, not your hands.
o Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth


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