Access to clean water, soap, and basic cleaning products may seem like a given in our nation, leading many of us to overlook the impact poverty can have on hygiene. In the United States alone, the statistics are staggering: 33% of low-income households report bathing without soap when they can't afford it, 32% report reusing diapers, and 74% skip doing laundry or dishes to save on supplies. It can seem that hygiene products are not as great a priority as nutrition, shelter, or clothing, but hygiene has a direct impact on health, especially for those struggling with a chronic condition or patients receiving "hospital at home" care. In this blog post, we will explore this concept of "hygiene poverty," its consequences, and the urgent need for collective action.
Achieving and maintaining sanitized surfaces in hospitals requires an arsenal cleaning and disinfecting products, with quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs or QUATs) being a popular choice. However, as with all cleaners and disinfectants, there are both benefits and risks to their use. In today's post, we'll explore the use of quaternary ammonium compounds and some growing concerns about their impact.
Hospitals are the setting for countless decisions each day, decisions that impact patient outcomes, financial investments, community health and so much more. Decisions about the prevention of healthcare associated infections take place at all levels of a hospital hierarchy, from the environmental services cleaner to the Chief Executive Officer. In today’s post, we will look at who makes these critical decisions that impact patient safety, staff well-being, and the overall resilience of a healthcare system.
Probably no other organizational entity has the human resources complexity of a hospital. Healthcare facilities bring together not just medical professions, but also administration, marketing, financial, and social work professionals. This convergence results in a complex hierarchy which is difficult to nail down, varies by the facility, and can change based on difficult-to-pinpoint scenarios. As a result, a post about the hierarchy of a hospital has to be broad, but we will attempt to lay out the general levels of responsibility by focusing on decision-making areas at private care facilities.
About a quarter of American hospitals are for-profit, that is, they are operated to generate profit for owners and stakeholders. A subsection of those hospitals, about 3%, have been acquired through private equity (PE) buyouts, whereby a PE firm raises funds to purchase a hospital. These PE transactions, also called "takeovers," are characteristically funded through leveraged debt - the firm takes out a loan secured by the purchased entity (the hospital), adding the burden of that debt to the balance sheet (and monthly expenses) of that facility. As a result, hospitals acquired by PE firms face additional pressures; they are operated not only to generate profit but also must repay large amounts of debt, used to fund the acquisition and now added to their balance sheet. A recent study looked into this subsection of hospitals to see how this added financial pressure impacted patient outcomes. The results? Patients are 25% more likely to be harmed by medical care at a private-equity acquired facility.
Over the past years, and with an uptick since COVID, the acronym "ESG" has been popping up in discussions related to investing, corporate values, and public accountability. Is a focus on "Environment, Social, and Governance" a new idea? How has the increased scrutiny affected the healthcare industry? And most specifically, how does it apply to the field of infection control and prevention?
Ever since the COVID pandemic, hospitals have become more adept at thinking outside the box, or rather, outside the patient room. For some hospitals, the pandemic meant converting waiting rooms into treatment rooms, while for others, it meant finding ways to access shared spaces without sharing germs. This experience, plus the added financial pressures faced by healthcare, is accelerating a trend for more cross-functional, multipurpose rooms in healthcare facilities. How will this trend intersect with infection control protocols? Let's try to foresee some potential benefits and risks.
The weeks between mid-September and mid-October has been National Hispanic Heritage Month since the late 1980s. During this month, the nation takes time to recognize the important role played by American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central/South America. The 2023 theme is "Todos Somos, Somos Unos: We Are All, We Are One!" capturing the idea that in spite of our unique backgrounds, we are all intertwined and united by our shared humanity. In today's post, we'll share 5 resources you can use to explore or share the many contributions from Hispanic/Latino individuals in the fields of healthcare, infection prevention, and epidemiology.
With a few words, a family's life is forever changed: "It's cancer." For any patient, these words bring anxiety and fear. When that patient is a child, however, no words can express the emotions that send shock waves through a family, friends, and community. Today's post begins a three-part story of one such young patient, a little boy named Jack. (Best of all, Jack's story has a happy ending.) During Childhood Cancer Awareness Month join us as we see the challenges of pediatric cancer treatment and infection control through the eyes of a boy and his mother.
The Centers for Disease Control's Global Safe Healthcare division refers to infection prevention and control as "the cornerstone of a resilient healthcare system and protects health workers, patients, and the surrounding community." This quote got us thinking about the role of a cornerstone, and how it does indeed reflect the critical position IC plays in community health. In today's post, we'll see just how far this metaphor goes in capturing the many ways infection control and prevention impacts quality healthcare.