It may sound simple, but doctors say this simple act can save lives. “You can’t get away from hand hygiene because if you really think about it, caring for a patient is about contact,” said Dr. William Binder, a neonatologist with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
It’s why health experts have made hand washing and hand sanitizing so accessible—by having a sink in every patient room and hand sanitizer for when people come and go from a patient’s room. “Not having the access to soap or hand gel is not an excuse. It’s pretty much everywhere you go, at every doorway and entrance or exit, at every patient entrance or exit, each hallway. I can hand gel when I’m entering or exiting a patient’s room because it’s muscle memory of where the hand gel is,” explained Dr. Binder.
And while health experts are trained on how to prevent infections, it’s also important for the community to participate in keeping their hands clean. “Involvement of family and visitors is crucial. So we educate them. We teach them where the supplies are, how to properly hand gel. We give them an easy scrub surgical scrub brush. It’s got the soap and everything in there. So this is distributed when they come in to visit as a way of reminding them that the first step to do when they are by a sink is to use this,” he said.
Hand hygiene is incredibly important in the neonatal intensive care unit. “Our patients are particularly vulnerable because of the immaturity; they have an immature immune system. We are extra careful. These patients are in an intensive care unit, and infections can be devastating,” said Dr. Binder.
Making such a simple act so important.