Marines

Inform, prevent

17 Nov 2009 | Marine Cpl. Jessica L. Martinez

With the 2009 H1N1 flu sweeping the nation, not to mention the local area, preventing and reducing the spread of the infection is something that takes a team effort.

Kimberly Franklin, an infection control preventionist with Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, is constantly monitoring and making sure the hospital is reducing hospital infections and transmission of infections between staff and patients, as well as keeping them from catching anything during their visit.

Infection can easily spread in a place where dozens upon dozens of people visit each and every day that is why it is important to inform people on ways to prevent from spreading germs to others.  

“We constantly are educating the staff on how to care for and treat patients without getting sick or transferring it by practicing acts such as washing hands before patient contact, proper cough hygiene and respiratory etiquette,” said Franklin. “We hang posters around the facility for patients to educate them as well. We try to isolate the sick and housekeeping does an excellent job of keeping the surfaces throughout the hospital clean.”

There are many ways people can help prevent spreading germs to others, but the easiest and most common way only takes a couple minutes.  

“For generations, hand washing with soap and water has been considered a measure of personal hygiene,” as stated by the Center for Disease Control Web site. “The concept of cleansing hands with an antiseptic agent probably emerged in the early 19th century. As early as 1822, a French pharmacist demonstrated that solutions containing chlorides of lime or soda could eradicate the foul odors associated with human corpses and that such solutions could be used as disinfectants and antiseptics. In 1825, this pharmacist stated that physicians and other persons attending patients with contagious diseases would benefit from moistening their hands with a liquid chloride solution.”

It’s important for people to wash their hands, Franklin said. Hand sanitizer, if hands are not actually soiled, is just as effective as soap and water.

Doctors and staff with the naval hospital use protective gear such as gloves, masks and gowns, to also aid in keeping organisms from spreading throughout the hospital and to patients.

“I’m constantly assessing what (the hospital) is doing and making sure we have the proper procedures to keep the hospital clean for staff and patients,” said Franklin.

If someone comes to the hospital with something contagious, the hospital staff is trained and educated on how to treat that situation and prevent the virus from spreading to other patients, staff or visitors.

“Organisms are everywhere,” reminded Franklin. “They are in the air, on surfaces and our skin. A lot of infections are caused by bacteria already on our skin, which live there normally, but when someone gets a cut or wound, the bacteria gets in and has a chance to grow and causes infection. Skin is the number one protector against infection. We want to keep people as safe as possible. We never stop educating the staff and patients. It really is simple...wash your hands, cover up your sneezes and cough into your sleeve.”

For more information on preventing the spreading of germs, visit the CDC Web site at cdc.gov.