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Infection Control

Infection Awareness Should Not Take A Summer Vacation

August 16, 2012
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Now that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the North American flu season is officially over and summer is in full swing — the CDC didn't tell us that second part; the Gregorian calendar did — infection awareness will take its seasonal backseat.

This cyclical phenomenon happens each year: News bulletins and press briefings abound when an outbreak occurs or the potential for one exists, and then all but disappear in the off season.

As a result, the public becomes complacent, adopting the "out of sight, out of mind" philosophy.

To some degree, this also reigns true for custodial professionals — especially those in educational settings where campuses largely become ghost towns during the summer months.

Although recent reports discredit the notion that infection control and prevention is top of mind for environmental services technicians and infection preventionists in healthcare settings — in the latter, the idea is right in the job title — throughout the year, even they are not immune to the laissez faire mentality that develops with warmer weather.

So, the million-dollar question is, "How do we stress the importance of infection awareness year-round without our messages falling on deaf ears?"

Preach From The Pulpit

As humans, we are creatures of habit; we thrive on repetition and consistency.

This is why radio and television advertisements repeat the same information over and over again until it becomes solidified in our psyche.

Such an approach is needed regarding infection awareness no matter the time of year or stage of an outbreak.

I have said it before, and I will echo it again: Controlling the spread of germs and bacteria is everyone's job, from building occupants all the way up the corporate ladder to whomever sits atop — well, hopefully nobody is actually sitting, as that would be in violation of proper ladder safety.

But, I think you catch my drift.

Signage stressing the importance of hand hygiene, soap and instant hand sanitizer and those witty animations about the interconnectedness of populations in regard to how viruses and superbugs can spread or be curbed should be visible and available in sufficient quantities all year.

In the U.S. alone, sick and/or diseased people account for tens of billions of dollars in lost wages, medical bills and other associated costs each year.

It is imperative that we step up our infection awareness efforts and do all we can to minimize the instances of avoidable infections; the alternative is a sick, vulnerable and penniless population.

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