In Yukon's hospitals, preventing and controlling the spread of infections is an important part of safety. Members of your health care team take a number of steps to protect patients and themselves, including the use of proper personal protection equipment. We also look at best practices and work with partners such as Yukon Communicable Disease Control (YCDC) and Infection Prevention & Control (IPAC) Canada to find new ways to stop germs from being passed from one person to another.
Everyone has a role to play, so we consider patients, families and staff when developing policies, procedures and plans to prevent the spread of infection. Here’s what you can do:
Visit Only if you Feel Well
If you are suffering from a cough, sore throat, fever, vomiting or diarrhea or are just not feeling as well as usual, it is best that you not come to the hospital to visit. There is a risk that you could make your family member or friend sicker. Instead of coming to the hospital, you can call on the phone. There is a phone in every patient room and guest wireless service. To call a patient room, call the hospital and ask for the patient by name.
Clean your Hands
Cleaning your hands regularly is the best way to prevent the spread of germs that cause infection. Unless your hands look dirty, you can clean them easily and effectively using the hand sanitizer provided in the halls, in patient rooms, and several other spots throughout the hospital.
Rub the foam all over your hands, thumb, fingers and between your fingers. Be sure to clean the hands of any children with you too.
If your hands look dirty or you have just visited the washroom, it is better to wash them with soap and water. It is important to wash carefully. Turn on the taps and get your hands wet. With the water running, put soap on your hands and rub the soap all over your hands and wrists. Be sure to wash your thumbs and in between your fingers. Then rinse off the soap under the running water. Don’t turn off the taps until you dry your hands with paper towel, and then use the towel to turn off the taps, so you don’t get germs on your hands again.
Clean your hands before:
- Visiting a patient (even if you are also a patient)
- Handling or eating food or feeding others
- Inserting or removing contact lenses
- Treating wounds or cuts or changing a bandage
Clean your hands after:
- Visiting a patient
- Being near a person or a person’s room who has a cold or flu or any other illness
- Going to the toilet or changing a diaper
- Blowing your nose or wiping a child's nose
- Coughing or sneezing
All hospital staff treating patients are to clean their hands before and after contact with every patient. It’s okay to ask your health provider to wash their hands before they treat you.
Screening for Antibiotic Resistant Organisms (AROs)
Antibiotics are one of the most important discoveries of modern medicine, saving millions of lives by treating infections caused by bacteria. However, “superbugs” have developed because some bacteria have become resistant to and cannot be killed by antibiotics. Here is some useful information about Antibiotic Resistant Organisms and what you can do to help:
- Most cold, flu, croup, laryngitis, bronchitis as well as some sore throats and ear or sinus infections are caused by viruses, not bacteria, so antibiotics are not helpful
- Most chest infections (with the exception of pneumonia) will get better on their own without antibiotics
- Using antibiotics when they are not helpful or needed makes the “superbug” problem worse
- Do not use antibacterial soap or other antibacterial cleaners at home
- Do not throw out old or extra antibiotic pills (take them to the drug store)
Hospital staff regularly screen patients for antibiotic resistant organisms such as Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus (VRE). The admitting nurse will ask you a few questions about recent hospital stays and whether you have tested positive or come into contact with patients who are MRSA or VRE positive.
There are times when our staff take extra precautions when a patient has tested positive for a "superbug" because some times the organism lives naturally within our bodies. This doesn't mean that you have an infection or anything to worry about. However, staff will wear an extra gown and gloves to prevent the spread of bacteria. You and your family may be asked to do the same.