Perhaps nothing brought our world together in a more joyful way than hearing cities across the planet shout, bang pots and pans, and honk horns to support frontline healthcare workers during shift changes. In one voice, we were able to tell healthcare workers who were sacrificing so much (and taking on so much risk) that we appreciated them and were thankful for their tireless work. As Thanksgiving approaches during a year of so much loss, we can also express our gratitude by staying home and following CDC guidelines to not travel and comingle during the holidays, thereby preventing a spike in COVID cases. As we make the right choice to stay home and help protect our loved ones, let's take a moment to be thankful for all our frontline workers, those in healthcare as well as those in so many other essential jobs that help keep our nation moving.
As COVID-19 and other infectious pathogens make headlines, our attention is drawn to the technologies being developed to fight these germs. Bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms threaten human lives. We want to know what kills them, and we want it now!
Interestingly, plain copper, the stuff of pennies and the Statue of Liberty, has powerful antimicrobial properties. In fact, copper was used by ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and others to carry and store water, line pipes and barrels, and on boats because they could tell by observation that items with copper had the ability to keep water free from spoilage and wood free from parasites.
What the ancients could observe, science can now explain.
How does copper kill bacteria? It is not through some kind of new age or magical properties - just plain old rust. Copper kills bacteria through 5 main pathways, also called, "kill mechanisms." (Doesn't that just sound so much better?)
Last week, we began our comparison of how New York City responded to a global pandemic a century apart. This week, we continue the comparison, this time looking at how schools, families, and Broadway balanced economic and health pressures, two essential concerts that were often at odds.
Imagine you are a physician doing rounds in a hospital. You and a colleague walk into the room of a patient infected with MRSA. You are careful to wear gloves, and avoid touching the patient, but instead check his medical devices and other equipment. Alongside you, your colleague performs a routine exam of the patient himself, touching various parts of his body as needed. After the visit, you and your colleague remove your gloves and each pair is tested for contamination by MRSA. Whose gloves are the most contaminated? The answer may surprise you.
In November of 1918, a New York City subway car crashed in Flatbush, Brooklyn, killing 100 passengers and injuring 250 others. Photos of the wreckage show a wooden train twisted and bent along the tracks, with the New York Times describing the aftermath as “a darkened jungle of steel dust and wood splinters, glass shards and iron beams projecting like bayonets.” The train operator, Antonio Luciano, was but 25 years old at the time, and initially attempted to walk away from the crash, himself uninjured. It was only after intensive media coverage of the incident and the resulting lawsuits that it was eventually revealed Luciano was at the time recovering from a bout with the Spanish Flu, which had just days before claimed the life of one of his daughters.
Hospitals and other healthcare facilities face a difficult quandary when it comes to selecting environmental surfaces to accommodate patients, guests and staff: How do we make a beautiful space while considering healing, safety, cost, and durability of materials? Just as in other institutional settings, hospital construction must balance the need for safety and durability with aesthetics and cost and all products can become subject to value engineering. The Facility Guidelines Institute, a non-profit agency, maintains current guidelines for the design and construction of hospitals and healthcare facilities. There are an array of choices for each and every surface in a hospitals, each with its own costs and benefits. Today we'll explore what those hard surface material choices are and, with infection control a priority for all healthcare facilities, how hospitable they are to bacteria.
Two important news articles this week took a long look at nursing homes. One examined the deadly impact of the pandemic on vulnerable nursing home populations and their staff, while the other revealed weaknesses in regulation and enforcement meant to protect their elderly residents. In today's post, we'll discuss what the future might hold for nursing homes as they try to keep their businesses - and residents - alive during and after a global pandemic.
We experience the ickiness and inconvenience of biofilms every day. From slow drains to tooth plaque, biofilms surround us because bacteria surround us. But take our everyday annoyance with biofilms such as a gunky sink pipe or teeth that need to be brushed twice daily and multiply that exponentially and you begin to have an idea of the horror biofilms present to industries and healthcare planet-wide. Today we'll explore the tenacious, intractable, just-as-likely-to-return-as-Jason nature of bacteria's number one weapon: biofilms.
In last week's post, we examined the three things required for bacteria to form a biofilm: Moisture, nutrients, and a surface. Once these biofilms become established, they begin to act in very creepy ways. Today we'll look at some of the characteristics of biofilms that are the stuff of nightmares. Don't say we didn't warn you.
When the cases of COVID-19 started to explode in the spring of 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) suspended reporting of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) until June of that same year. In an effort to alleviate the unprecedented strain on staff and time, this suspension enabled infection prevention teams to concentrate all their efforts on responding to COVID-19. Surveillance is now beginning to catch up, with reports emerging of how COVID-19 affected HAI cases and rates. In today's post, we'll look at what some of that preliminary data says about how we are faring as a nation in preventing HAIs while simultaneously fighting a global pandemic.