Hospital infection rates down but has it been easy?

The Health Protection Agency has now been monitoring rates of hospital acquired infections, including MRSA, since April 2001. The HPA data capture system has become increasingly detailed with full analysis reports published quarterly and compared to previous periods.

Reported cases of MRSA fortunately continue to decline, the latest report declaring 916 reported MRSA outbreaks between January and September 2011.

This is great news but the reality is that these improvements have only resulted from serious constant attention to the issue from health professionals and cleaning contractors alike.

A case in point is the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital that had been named as one of the poorest performing in the UK.

Following a serious review of cleaning standards the hospital has cut overall infection rates by more than 80% and has been named a centre of excellence. The infection control director invested in cleaning standards and introduced a hydrogen peroxide mist technology that involves spraying a low concentrate of cleaning mist.

Studies comparing cleaning methods within hospitals have identified those proven to be most effective. Steam cleaning in particular has been recommended for periodic deep cleaning of hospital environments. Test results show complete disinfection of organisms such as MRSA, Acinetobacter and Clostridium difficile spores.

Chemical free steam cleaning also offers many advantages over alternative methods. Soft materials such as bed curtains and blinds can be cleaned in situ. Materials and surfaces are left clean and odour free with minimal amounts of water residue. Mould, bacteria, mildew and any remaining chemical contaminants are easily removed.

Needless to say correct machine installation and operator training is critical. Equipment manufacturers, such as Nilfisk, however provide professional certificated training and indeed will utilise their direct sales team to re-train as necessary when staff changes require it.

Nilfisk Steamer models range from the SO4500 at 4.5 bar pressure to the MD8000 at 8 bar. Models are provided with hoses and extension tubes and are available with and without a vacuum function.

Non chemical sanitisation is undoubtedly improved by the use of a vacuum facility with the steam cleaner. Steam loosens the organisms which are then sucked into the recovery tank. Chlorine tablets placed in the recovery tank add to the anti-bacterial effect.

Hospitals of course are often associated with huge areas of polished floors. For many the concept of keeping up with that amount of hard floors is daunting.

Fortunately help is at hand with machines constantly improved for performance, efficiency and usability.

Fresh off the blocks from the Nilfisk Group are the FM400 polishers and BU500 single disc burnisher.

The FM400 single disc range includes 180 and 410 revs per minute (rpm) machines plus the dual speed 185/270 rpm 43 cm option.

The 53cm BU500 burnisher features an impressive 1500 rpm and has a foldable handle allowing for compact storage and transport.

Safety remains a top priority with orange cables for maximum visibility and a dead man switch that immediately halts the machine when the levers are released. All machines cannot be operated in the upright position.

Of course it goes without saying that Hospitals are no different than other facilities when it comes to environmental and cost considerations. With budgets constantly tightening Managers must find ways to lower costs and reduce chemical usage.

Nilfisk‘s Ecoflex system originated from their strategy to develop cleaning solutions with improved environmental performance. In short where Green meets Clean.

An environmental concept, the Ecoflex system recognises that it is not necessary to sacrifice cleaning results for environmental issues; a cleaning solution should not be just “green“ but clean too.

Cleaning is of course associated with environmental impact, substantial amounts of water are used daily in addition to chemical agents. Many establishments now look to use the minimum amount of chemical but chemical free is not always possible unless the client is prepared to compromise on the result. Additionally different applications require varying levels of clean.

The Ecoflex concept allows the operator to match the scrubbery dryers‘ performance to the level of soiling and the required level of clean.

On start up the scrubber dryer starts in Ecoflex mode and uses minimum amounts of water, chemical and power. On encountering a soiled area the operator activates a one minute burst of power for extra performance. The machine then moves automatically back into Ecoflex mode retaining the flexibility for more aggressive cleaning when required.

This level of flexibility removes the need to double scrub and guarantees results against alternative one size fits all options.

One thing is certain; all elements of hospital cleaning need to continually evolve and improve if the ongoing battle against hospital acquired infections is to be won. From the machine manufacturer, to chemicals, janitorial products and people the battle goes on...

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