Don’t touch those magazines in the waiting room

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Several years ago while sitting in a management team meeting, I was suddenly stricken with symptoms of a particularly hideous strain of an outbreak of  norovirus that had been spreading through the hospital where I worked. Because those infected with a norovirus illness shed billions of the dreaded virus particles in their stool and vomit, the hospital protocol during this outbreak was to immediately call in a specially-trained housekeeping team wearing what looked like Hazmat suits to scrub down the staff washroom I’d just used.  Even the calendar and paper posters pinned up on the washroom’s little bulletin board were removed and destroyed.

Until then, I thought I was the only one who felt creeped out by touching paper in any public waiting room. These rooms – particularly in hospitals and doctors’ offices – are jam-packed with sick people, people!  At the best of times, I don’t like sitting in a patient waiting room, never mind voluntarily picking up any reading material while I’m there. Even people who are not coughing, hacking, snorting, sneezing or wiping dripping mucous from their inflamed noses with unwashed bare fingers can still be transmitting bacteria and viruses onto every page of those waiting room magazines.  Continue reading “Don’t touch those magazines in the waiting room”

It’s Handwashing Awareness Week!

by Carolyn Thomas

When one of our nurses knocked on my office door to tell me that the mandatory Hand Hygiene class for all hospital staff was starting, I sighed: “Oh, for Pete’s sake! I already know how to wash my hands!”  But off I went, muttering.

The class started with the instructor teaching us how to scrub-scrub-scrub our hands, in between our fingers, up and down our thumbs, right up to and around the wrists. We learned to do this for 30 full seconds (it’s longer than you think – try singing two verses of ‘Happy Birthday’ just to make sure). Then, she shut off the room lights and took out her special Lumalite that made any leftover germs on our hands glow a bright turquoise.  I was stunned by the results.   Continue reading “It’s Handwashing Awareness Week!”

How long can flu bugs survive on that doorknob?

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters door green

Internist Dr. James Steckelberg from Mayo Clinic answers this common question about the upcoming flu season:

Q: If someone has the flu or a cold and coughs into his hand and then touches a doorknob, how long can those germs live on that doorknob?

A:  The length of time that cold or flu germs can survive outside the body on an environmental surface, such as a doorknob, varies greatly. But the suspected range is from a few seconds to 48 hours — depending on the specific virus and the type of surface.  Continue reading “How long can flu bugs survive on that doorknob?”