Month: March 2016

Keeping Your Medical Facility Safe From Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

rwOutside of the daily struggle to heal patients, medical facilities are facing one of their hardest struggles yet: keeping their facilities safe from the dangers of antibiotic resistant bacteria. With patients now coming in contact with these so-called “super bugs” in their daily lives and bringing them into hospitals and care facilities with them, medical facilities like yours are losing the battle. However, there are advances in understanding and available technology that can help you and your staff to keep fighting back against antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Soft Surfaces Are the Real Transmitters

One of the most important realizations in the battle against super bugs is that your patients are being exposed to them through contact with soft surfaces. As much as 90% of a patient’s care environment can be made of soft surfaces, and these will often come in contact with contaminants without receiving any kind of sanitation. Your new sanitation efforts and protocols need to take this knowledge into account: soft surfaces (especially those which are mobile) need to be sanitized with the same care as hands and hard surfaces.

Dirty Scrubs

Your staff is already highly trained to avoid spreading contaminants through their hands. They wash and sanitize them regularly. However, they do not use the same precautions with the garments they wear, and it’s a huge part of the problem. Your staff, and more specifically their scrubs, will come in contact with antibiotic resistant bacteria throughout the day, and they will inevitably touch their clothing as the day progresses. Their scrubs quickly become contaminated as their shift passes, and by the end of the day, their scrubs can be as contaminated as an unwashed lab coat. This is unacceptable in any facility that is devoted to stopping the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Solutions

Fortunately, the healthcare linen industry is developing more viable solutions than having staff change their uniforms frequently throughout the day. For now, your best and most viable option for ensuring the sanitation of your soft surfaces is to hire a professional healthcare linen laundry service to sanitize and replace linens throughout your facility. In the future, you may be able to partner with a medical laundry service to use new fabrics that have been imbedded with antimicrobial agents and fluid repellency, which keeps bacteria from being able to adhere to fabric. Each of these technologies still has quite a way to go before it will be viable within a healthcare setting, but the results have been promising.

 

Urgent Care Clinics Booming in Difficult Healthcare Market

yThe economic downturn, looming entitlement reforms and potential budget cuts in the United States at the federal and state level are allowing the growth of urgent care clinics, otherwise known as immediate care clinics, to substantially increase. This is considered to be a remedy to fill in the growing doctor shortage.

According to industry reports and spending by large healthcare operators, the number of urgent care clinics is projected to soar within the next decade. It is estimated that more than 8,000 urgent care clinics have been established – other numbers show 9,000 – and the Urgent Care Association of America reports eight to 10 percent annual growth.

Urgent care facilities are different than traditional hospitals and are rather similar to the health clinics found in places like Walmart and Walgreen because they are usually open on evenings and weekends and treat common health issues – some immediate care clinics do offer additional services like X-rays for broken bones.

Some medical professionals like to consider their urgent care clinics as after-hours doctors’ offices. Most of those who work in such an office do note, however, patients may not get to see a board-certified doctor or another kind of specialist.

A large percentage of walk-in clinics and urgent care offices are managed and operated by non-profit health systems, which receive donations and contributions in order to pay for construction and renovation costs, patient care program support, general operations costs and equipment purchases, according to the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy’s (AHP) annual Report on Giving study.

With so many of these operations setting up in malls, main streets and in major metropolitan cities, can the non-profit sector even pay for them? Well, Reuters is reporting that private equity firms have been investing money into urgent care clinics over the past few years. Although there is a tremendous risk in investing in these clinics because of the possibility of oversaturation and low insurance reimbursements, these firms work one-on-one with clinics to provide quality and to make profit.

Rand Health found that retailers are entering the healthcare marketplace too. Big box stores, such as Target and Walmart, only had a few of these clinics in the year 2000, but today there are more than 1,200.

“Retail clinics emphasize convenience, with extended weekend and evening hours, no appointments, and short wait times,” the organization states in its report. “More than 44 percent of retail clinic visits take place when physician offices are typically closed. Price transparency and low costs may also be particularly attractive for people without insurance.”

This is surely part of the profit-motive for these corporations.

Regardless of the concerns one may have over the private sector getting involved in such an industry, urgent care clinics are part of the nation’s future healthcare market, especially since President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is now law of the land and will add a burden to the system.

“Many factors could influence the future of retail clinics in the U.S. First, the growing body of evidence casting doubt on quality-of-care concerns could lead to greater acceptance and use of retail clinics,” Rand added.

“Full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could also lead to continued retail clinic growth. With more people insured and an increased demand for primary care under the ACA, access to primary care physicians could decrease. This may lead to increased demand for retail clinics. Similarly, if wait times for physician appointments increase-as has been the case in Massachusetts following its health reform-this could also increase retail clinic demand.”

Despite the concerns that some may have about private investment possibly cutting costs to increase its bottom line, urgent care clinics must offer remedies to health issues otherwise the consumer will go elsewhere to receive proper medical attention.

 

Save A Life

scI suggest that everyone learn how to a save a life just in case, one day, it becomes necessary. Yesterday morning, I woke up and followed my morning routine. The first thing I do when I get to the kitchen is get my 24 ounces of water and then go over to take my supplements. I was swallowing down my Vitamin C pills and my Multivitamin and, suddenly, I felt them lodge in my throat and I couldn’t breathe.

I paused and thought they would shift. They did not shift. I was gasping for air. I stayed calm and walked to my son’s room where he was sleeping. He heard me gasping and flew out of bed. I had my hand in a fist and was pushing it against my diaphragm area. He knew I needed the Heimlich and he grabbed me started applying it. It took about four attempts before I could breathe again. I stood there sucking in air and taking in what just had happened. He stood there looking at me with wide eyes. Can you imagine waking up that way?

I had to kind of chuckle thinking of how things come back around. Many years ago, my son had taken his vitamin and all of sudden he was clutching at his throat and his eyes got real big. I told him to stay calm, went over to him and performed the Heimlich. Yesterday, he got to return the favor.

Later in the day, I wondered what would have happened if he had not been here. I could have tried to Heimlich myself on my kitchen chairs. They are rounded. It may have worked. I was just grateful that he was here to save a life which just happened to be mine! I also thought about how many people do not know how to apply life saving techniques like the Heimlich or CPR.

There are courses offered everywhere to teach these simple life saving techniques. It’s so important that we learn how to use these tools at our disposal. The best case scenario is that we never have to use them. Well, on second thought, maybe the best case scenario is that we are the one in the room that knows how to use them and gets to save a life as a result of the knowledge we have gained by learning.

I suggest that everyone who does not already have the skills find out how to learn them. Start with your local hospital. See what they offer or where they refer you. You may just save a life one day! Who doesn’t want to be a hero?