Let’s take a quick poll. If you could exercise with a buddy, would you be more inclined to do so? How about a walking club, would you join one? If the answer is yes, you may not have to look much further than your local senior centre.
Senior centres across the province provide a meeting place for seniors who can be at risk for social isolation, helping them stay connected to their community. Many centres also incorporate health promotion and healthy living initiatives into their programs. Senior centres are well-positioned to provide a platform for social interaction and can be a great venue for exercise programs as well. For older adults, when you combine exercise with a supportive social environment, the benefits grow exponentially.Continue reading Exercise programs are adding huge benefits to social networking at local senior centres→
80 per cent of infectious disease can be transmitted by hand contact.
Victoria General Hospital celebrated national “Stop! Clean Your Hands Day” on May 5. To mark it, Tamara Coombs, the hospital’s manager of quality improvement, developed a project to disseminate hand hygiene information to staff, patients and families.
Although a familiar subject, many people do not fully understand the importance of hand hygiene. It is something that is often overlooked, or completed with little care. But with the potential for 80 per cent of all infectious diseases to be transmitted through physical touch, hand hygiene is essential to prevent the spread of infections and disease outbreaks.
Major source of infection
Approximately 250,000 Canadians, or one out of every nine patients, after being admitted to the hospital acquire an infection unrelated to their reason for going to the hospital. Deemed the single most important way to prevent bacterial spread, a minimum hand washing time of 15 seconds has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although doubling this time has been shown to reduce the bacterial count on the hands by 10 times the amount.
Hand hygiene requires three components: proper procedure, an appropriate hand washing or hand cleaning agent and hand washing at frequent intervals. Proper hand washing does not end once the tap is turned off. It has been shown that hands should be dried completely, as damp hands are 1,000 times more likely to spread bacteria than dry hands.
Even though hand washing does not kill all viruses, it can reduce the levels of bacteria below the infectious point and reduce disease transmission. Without hand hygiene, microorganisms have the capacity to live on environments for an extended period of time; inanimate objects such as rings, bracelets and watches are a perfect place for bacteria to hide, and germs can survive on an individual’s hands for approximately three hours after contact.
Hand hygiene can also improve overall well-being by reducing diarrheal, disease-associated illnesses and deaths; foodborne diseases and infections; respiratory infections such as pneumonia; and respiratory illnesses such as colds. Past research has shown significant differences in hand-washing rates between sexes. Women are much more likely to wash their hands after using the washroom than men.
When people are surveyed, an individual’s claimed hand hygiene practices are not aligning with their actual practices. For example, 95 per cent of the population claim they wash their hands after using a public toilet, but when 8,000 individuals were monitored across five large American cities, only 67 per cent of those individuals washed their hands.
Similar findings were demonstrated with medical professionals. Despite reporting a 73 per cent hand-washing rate between patients, when followed in one study, pediatric intensive care unit physicians washed their hands less than 10 per cent of the time between patients.
Community hand-washing education has proven to be effective for students, as well as the general population, reducing a large number of illnesses, in addition to promoting attendance in schools. When gel hand sanitizer was introduced into 16 elementary schools, the rate of infection was reduced by 19.8 per cent.
Directed hand-washing education has shown similar results in the workplace; reducing absences, sick leaves and productivity among employees. What we need is a behavioural change.
Spreading the word
Victoria General Hospital hosted “Stop! Clean your Hands Day!” to promote such a change. A primary booth was set up in the breezeway of the hospital. Individuals passing by were drawn into the interactive display and greeted by enthusiastic volunteers, who provided information regarding the initiative.
An additional mobile booth made its way through the hospital to interact with staff, patients and families within the health care environment. Hundreds of brightly-coloured. “Ask me if I cleaned my hands” badges were handed out to encourage the right kind of spreading – that of information.
Dr. Susy Santos is the director of research and evaluation at Victoria General Hospital. To support patient care at the Vic please contact the Vic Foundation at 204-477-3513 or online at thevicfoundation.ca.
Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically-supervised exercise and education program designed to help patients regain strength, reduce the risk of a subsequent event and prevent their condition from worsening.
A person experiencing a heart attack or upon being diagnosed with certain heart conditions may be referred to cardiac rehabilitation. A recently completed study of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s cardiac rehabilitation program measured the program’s efficacy and benefits to participants. It measured indicators such as quality of life, social health, mental health and physical health. Continue reading New help for female heart patients→
Victoria General Hospital is linking its acute patient care sector with local community services.
As part of significant and ongoing integration of health services in Winnipeg, Victoria General Hospital has been chosen by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority to formally work in partnership with other community-based health and social service agencies, one of the first two hospitals in the city to implement the work arrangement. Continue reading Health services integration gets first testing here→