The holidays are meant to be a joyful time of year, making memories with family and friends. For some, ‘tis the season to schedule elective surgeries that have been put off all year long.
This season can be challenging for hospitals because many of their tenured staff choose to take time off too. While family fun is ramping up, hospital staff is ramping down and viruses like the Flu, RSV, or SARS CoV-2 are on the upswing. Pathogens travel through the air like microscopic snowflakes, settling on surfaces – waiting to be touched. It’s the time of year known as “Respiratory Virus Season.”
Injury incidents like slips, falls – and even heart attacks increase during the holiday season too – making it the busiest time of year for ER visits.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw first-hand how quickly and easily a virus can spread. We learned that the odds increased when we were in large gatherings.
Healthcare facilities have been acutely aware of pathogen transmission for decades. Once a pathogen makes its way into a hospital, transmission risk elevates. The CDC says transmission commonly occurs when healthcare workers’ hands are contaminated by touching germs present on medical equipment or high touch surfaces and then carrying them on their hands where they are spread to a susceptible person when proper hand hygiene is not performed. Hardy pathogens like C. diff can live on surfaces for up to 5 months–increasing the risk of pathogen transmission.
Finding ways to ease the burden on hospital staff without compromising care is a common topic in today’s hospitals and among healthcare leaders. Staffing shortages and turnover have been ongoing. Hospitals need to maintain their standard of care and reinforce the efforts that make their hospital safe and provide patients with a clean environment that promotes healing. Not just during the holidays, but all year round.
For example, with ever-changing EVS staff, providing tools that are validated, simple enough for anyone to use, and don’t have a big impact on time is one way to ease the burden. The EVS team has the difficult job of cleaning not just what they can see – but also the microscopic pathogens that linger on commonly touched surfaces in rooms/areas, including the non-critical surfaces of medical devices.
The FDA recently authorized the first “whole room microbial reduction device”, proven to reduce the number of pathogens that survive liquid chemical cleaning. The LightStrike+ microbial reduction robot provides cycle times as quick as 2 minutes for vegetative bacteria, enabling EVS teams to use the device in dozens of rooms each day. It is the only whole room UV robot FDA authorized for use on the non-critical surfaces of medical devices in healthcare environments.
If you find yourself or a loved one in the hospital over the holidays – ask if they’re using the FDA authorized LightStrike+ robot, be diligent about washing your hands, and try to remember to be kind to hospital staff. They chose to be away from their families to be there for patients, they have likely worked long hours, and they want nothing more than to see their patients make it home to their families.