How to Stop The Flu From Spreading at Your Facility

December 19, 2013

How to Stop The Flu From Spreading at Your Facility

As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, preventing the spread of healthcare-associated infections isn’t the only thing on the minds of facilities managers overseeing healthcare operations.

Not only is incorporating greener, more sustainable cleaning practices crucial to the continued good health and profitability of your health care facility, so is developing and ensuring compliance with procedures that can prevent the spread of the latest flu epidemic.

Because facilities managers are the first line of defense against the spread of infections in their buildings, it’s always important to invest adequate time prior to the start of the flu “season” to research, develop and implement best practices. There’s no better place to look for guidance than the CDC, said Richard Murdock, a regional director for Vanguard Resources.

“We stress hand-washing and wearing a new pair of gloves before entering a patient room, then washing hands after exiting the patient’s room. We have alcohol-based hand sanitizers on walls at all entrances and outside every patient room too.”

Another important preventative measure all employees must follow is getting flu vaccinations, typically provided by the health institution, Murdock said. But, what about workers who cannot have flu shots because they experience allergic reactions or have a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome?

“Anyone not conforming must have a written doctor’s excuse if they are allergic to the shot, and must wear a face mask in all patient care and treatment areas,” Murdock said.

And, for workers who become sick, rules must be crystal clear. “If an employee has a fever, we encourage them not to come to work, “ Murdock said. “When they return, we send them to our Employee Health department to verify that they no longer have a fever and can return to duty.

“Additional staff is scheduled to come in on their day off or work overtime to cover a position, just as we would do for any absence. If they are under a physician’s care, they are required to obtain a release to return to work.”

One creative method Murdock uses in his facility to ensure clean compliance: “Secret shoppers” who visit the hospital unannounced to observe hand-washing conformity by physicians and staff.

The push for germ-free health facilities doesn’t stop with staffers, however. Visitors must be prompted to wash their hands before entering a patient room. Also, if the patient is isolated due to the flu or another virus, Murdock said, visitors should be strongly encouraged to wear gowns, gloves and face masks when they enter the rooms of patients.

For more help with protecting your facility from the flu, contact Vanguard Resources.