Guest Author - Rev. Jaclin Meade Scott
Oh no, someone is in the hospital. I hate hospitals. Should I go visit? Even if the person is unconscious? What about that smell? Will I get sick if I go? How long should I stay? I donít know what to do when I get to the room. I donít like the sight of tubes, machines, blood, phlegm, stitches. Can I bring the kids? What should I bring to the patient? Is food okay? Will I get lost in the hospital? Is there parking? Bathrooms? How can we visit, with people in and out all the time? Can I just call instead?
A previous article discussed phobias and fears about going to the hospital. Youíve worked through that now, and have decided to go. Before you hop on a bus, though, give the visit some thought.
Where have you been today? With sniffling, drooling kids? Changing diapers? In contact with the public? Working in a dusty, dirty environment? Cutting meat? Cleaning? Working in the yard? Handling chemicals, which includes plant food, bug spray, hair treatment, paint, car upkeep or gas, laundry treatments, printer or copy machine ink cartridges? Touching an animal? Even if you didnít handle any of these, if you were close to someone who did, you also carry traces of it on your clothing. The CSI people didnít make this up. So before you go to see someone whose immune system is weakened, WASH YOUR HAIR AND CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES.
And DO NOT WEAR A TIE. These are breeding grounds for all manner of micro biotic life, partially due to the fact that they are loose, getting into everything, and not often cleaned. If medical staff, or anyone else, walks into a patient room wearing a tie, advocate for the patient. Ask that the tie be removed.
When was the last time you cleaned the bottom of your shoes? There is a good reason that there is a great big mat just inside the hospital entrance. Give a bit of pressure, and WIPE YOUR FEET. It takes no time, so little effort, yet makes a difference. Bless your mother as you do it.
In the 1800s, Louis Pasteur and others did a study on why so many people died in surgery. The culprit? Unwashed hands! That simple act saved thousands of lives, and continues to do so. Pasteur took his study further, and today we have bacteria free, Pasteurized foods. It led to sterile environments, using clean utensils, and sanitizing hospital rooms. All hospital employees go through extensive training on infection control. There are courses, not just reminders, but courses on hand washing.
Yet infections abound. So more studies have recently been done. It finally dawned on someone that the VISITORS are walking germ labs. Now that you know this, you are hereby deputized to help turn the tide.
Even though you are showered and have changed clothes, WASH YOUR HANDS when you get to the room. Soap and very warm water are at the sink. There are dispensers of hand sanitizer every few feet in any hospital. This is not only for staff Ė itís for you! If you leave the room for any reason, for any length of time, wash hands again when returning to the room. Look at signs and posters. More and more, you will see them directed at visitors, and their part in infection control. We all carry serious germs on our person. These are not a threat to a healthy person. People, and babies, in a hospital, do not have the ability to fight them so easily.
And again, advocate for the patient. If the Chaplain, a Volunteer, or medical staffer approaches the bed without having sanitized their hands, make a polite request. If they refuse, let the patientís nurse know. Yes, really.
A word here about hand washing in general. As a society, weíre not very good about it. Guys, you have the worst statistics, especially after bathroom use. EEeuuuwww! Help heal the planet, and turn back those sleeves. Real men care about this, and take action.
School kids cannot get through the day without several hand washings. This should also be followed through at home.
Ladies, your acrylic nails and jewelry are bug labs. Make sure the soap gets to them.
If you find a study about testing the outside of purses for bacteria, donít read it while you eat. Itís really disgusting. Those purses, backpacks, phones, diaper bags, computer cases and brief cases go everywhere. They get set down in the most awful places, like floors in bathrooms and restaurants, on public transportation, counters anywhere. They donít get cleaned. You most likely will have one of these items with you at the hospital. PLACE IT AS FAR FROM THE PATIENT AS POSSIBLE. Rewash your hands after touching them.
Bringing a card to the patient? Where has the envelope been before you put it in the patientís hands? Most card aisles now have plastic bags to separate your cards from your gooey groceries. PUT YOUR CARD BACK IN THE PLASTIC after you sign it, then remove it from the plastic to hand it to the patient.
Are you thinking at this point that weíve gone off the deep end, bordering on hysteria? Go the internet and put ďHand WashingĒ in your search engine. Look at the studies from major health centers and the national Center for Disease Control.
It takes a village to keep the population out of harmís way. Good health is part of