Hospital’s good hand hygiene

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THE chief nurse at Chesterfield Royal Hospital is taking the lead in a bid to prevent the spread of infection on wards this winter.

Alfonzo Tramontano (pictured) is reminding staff, patients and visitors that the best and simplest way to stop infection in its tracks is to wash hands with soap and water; and to use the gel dispensers available across the hospital – starting at the temporary front entrance.

“We treat over 60,000 in-patients on our wards every year and we have an excellent record,” he comments. “Year-on-year we have seen hospital acquired infections including Clostridium difficile and MRSA reduce - and we want to ensure we achieve our standards this year (a maximum of 48 cases of Cdiff and six cases of MRSA for 2011/12) but it is a real challenge.”

“With the onset of winter – and infections such as Norovirus (winter vomiting disease) and seasonal flu already rife in our communities it’s timely to remind people that cleaning hands really can save lives.”

The trust has a high national rating for cleanliness and is regarded as a model of good practice by the Health Protection Agency, but is continually looking at ways to reduce the risk of all avoidable infections. A case of MRSA recently has seen the trust make some more major changes to clinical practices on wards. Single use blood pressure cuffs are now used in high-risk areas; 200 bladeless Dyson fans have been purchased (MRSA bacteria was found to have survived in some fans at bedsides) and a new style cannula pack is set to be introduced next month.

The trust has also stepped up MRSA checks on hospital staff (about a third of the healthy population carry MRSA harmlessly on their skin or up their nose) and all high-risk patients coming in for surgery and emergency treatment are also swabbed for the infection. There is a simple course of medication that can be given to treat MRSA carried in this way.

“We are confident that we are doing all we can to prevent infection and the spread of infection,” says Fonz. “We are asking local people to support us by doing all they can as well - and by working together we’ll be successful.”

As well as hand washing, the trust is asking people not to come and visit - or to come for appointments - if they have had any sort of diarrhoea and sickness. Anyone suffering from this type of infection should avoid public places until they have been free of symptoms for 72 hours.

There’s lots of advice on the Royal’s YouTube channel where the hospital has videos about hand-washing, Norovirus and Seasonal Flu –