While traditionally found in healthcare settings, superbugs aren't a problem exclusive to medical facilities, nor should they be treated that way.
But, for these dangerous bacteria, the line between healthcare facilities and everywhere else is becoming increasingly blurred.
Traditionally healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are becoming community-acquired and have found their way into other public spaces, presenting challenges to cleaning professionals regardless of where they work.
Because of their increasing prevalence and ability to be picked up in non-traditional places, the way facilities managers of all kinds look at their infection control practices needs to change.
Not Just For Hospitals
It’s all too easy for facilies managers and their employees to turn a blind eye to what could potentially be lurking in unseen cracks and crevices.
For too long it was thought, maybe accepted, that the germs found in their facilities were completely different from the germs that their counterparts in healthcare facilities were tasked with dispatching.
But, the truth is that this is no longer certain and, as such, facilities of all shapes and sizes need to ensure that they are properly prepared to fight in the infection prevention game.
“Preventing the spread of infections should be a priority for all organizations, especially those that allow large groups of people to interact and share common items,” says Salah Qutaishat, Ph.D., senior clinical advisor of infection prevention at Diversey Inc.
In order to implement an infection prevention program that is comprehensive and effective, facilities need to pull from the situations experienced in the healthcare setting.
“Pulling from these experiences will allow for the implementation of effective infectious diseases transmission prevention strategies in non-healthcare settings like schools and higher education organizations, athletic clubs, restaurants and lodging facilities and cruise ships," adds Qutaishat.
The Non-healthcare Commonality
What all these non-healthcare facilities have in common is that they fit the description of a facility that allows for large groups of people to interact.
We know that germs and bacteria are spread far too easily, and when they are given ample opportunities to be passed around, they will take advantage of this.
For example: Germy students and teachers come in contact with one another, and with items such as shared textbooks or computers from computer labs, every day; and fitness centers encourage members to wipe down their equipment after use, but there is only an honor system in place when it comes to whether or not this equipment is disinfected between uses.
Just like healthcare facilities, every facility listed by Dr. Qutaishat potentially services individuals who harbor a plethora of bacteria.
What those in charge of caring for these facilities don’t necessarily consider is how dangerous those bacteria could be.
Amanda Martini-Hughes is the assistant editor of Cleaning & Maintenance Management magazine. A graduate from Siena College, she can be reached at AMartini-Hughes@EBSCO.com. Since joining the publication, Martini-Hughes has worked on numerous industry articles and is responsible for populating the industry's only daily electronic newsletter, CM e-News Daily.