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Cape Hospital pilots open hand-washing program for LMHS; Staff, visitors welcome to scrub up at stations

By Staff | Apr 3, 2008


For patients, visitors and staff entering Cape Coral Hospital, the number one way to avoid spreading germs throughout the facility is to regularly wash their hands. The hospital held a dedication Wednesday morning for a pilot program that includes a series of hand-washing stations.

The hospital’s infection control practitioner, Georgine Kruedelbach, explained that even though the hospital offers foam dispensing stations in certain areas of the hospital, the hand-washing stations are geared for anyone from the community who enters the hospital.

Kruedelbach said there are 30 new hand-washing stations in the Cape Coral Hospital. Each of the stations dispense hospital-grade hand gel that has a 62 percent alcohol base.

“Having it available reminds people to wash their hands,” said Kruedelbach.

Officials from the hospital presented their program to Lee Memorial’s board of directors, who decided unanimously to expand the hand-washing stations to all five campuses. When the program arrives at all of the hospitals in the system, there will be approximately 150 stations total.

Concerns over money almost halted the program, said Kruedelbach, but the Cape Coral Hospital Auxiliary decided to provide $1,800 for the gel in the hand-washing stations for two years. Jack Hess, the auxiliary president, was recognized for the decision to fund the program.

I happen to be a spoke in a wheel, I couldn’t have done it without the board of directors,” said Hess.

Lawrence Antonucci, the chief administrative officer at Cape Coral Hospital, addressed the importance of hand washing in hospitals.

Much of the bacteria we were grappling with was in the hospital, but now we see these resistant strains of staph or MRSA,” said Antonucci, “so clean hands are safe hands.

The hand-washing stations took between six to eight months to organize and install, where hospital staff had to follow safety codes to make sure there was not too much liquid in the building and that each station is accessible for someone who is disabled.

Each station also had to be installed in a manner that is unobtrusive.

According to the Center for Disease Control, hand washing is the most effective way for visitors and hospital staff to prevent the spread of nosocomial or community infections — infections that occur from exposure to organisms.

Patients who have recently had surgery or newborn babies are more susceptible to developing infections as a result of visitors or staff not washing their hands.

Sometimes we think about washing our hands in a hospital, but we don’t because we are just in a different environment,” said Kruedelbach.

The stations were also installed through the teamwork of Cape Coral Hospital staff, including Rocky Rhoads, Kent Ley, Bob Drew, Tom Newman, Sandra Raak and Terry Murphy.