Patient Safety

Patient Safety

Infection Prevention & Control

HealthEast infection prevention and control, in collaboration with all employees and physicians, strives to decrease the risk of infection and provide a safe patient care environment. Preventing and controlling infections is a key part of the quality and patient safety programs at HealthEast.

HealthEast uses evidence-based infection prevention and control guidelines that offer many ways to help reduce and prevent infections. While you are at a HealthEast facility, these guidelines help ensure your health and safety. 

How germs are spread

Germs are a fact of life. Some live on places we touch, like telephones, and others live in or on our bodies. Most germs are harmless and we don’t even know they are there. 

The most common way germs are spread is by touch:

We pick up germs when we touch people or things. If hands are not clean, germs can easily spread.

Some germs can spread when people cough or sneeze:

To keep germs from spreading to others, cover your mouth and nose with your upper arm or with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

HealthEast infection prevention and control guidelines

  • Hand hygiene is the single most important means of preventing the spread of infection. This includes washing hands with soap and water or using waterless alcohol hand sanitizers. HealthEast facilities have hand sanitizers inside and/or outside all patient rooms. We strive to provide patient, visitor and staff education about the importance of hand hygiene.
  • Equipment, instruments and surfaces are cleaned, disinfected and/or sterilized after use or disposed of after each patient.
  • Each patient room and bathroom is cleaned daily/between patients. Surfaces are disinfected with a solution formulated to kill germs.
  • Patients who have known or suspected infections may be placed on isolation precautions. These precautions are important to stop the spread of some infections. Protective clothing (masks, gowns, gloves) may be worn by staff and sometimes by visitors when they enter the room. Special equipment may remain in the room. Leaving the room may be restricted for a period of time.
  • Healthcare personnel may use protective barriers such as gloves, gowns, masks and eye/face protection and take certain precautions to prevent the spread of disease. The precautions used depends on the disease.

How patients can help prevent infections

  • Hand hygiene is the single most effective way to prevent infection. Clean your hands before eating, after using the bathroom, after touching any item or surface that is soiled and before you leave your room.
  • It's OK to ask your caregivers for assistance in doing hand hygiene or ask if they have performed hand hygiene before caring for you. Request that your visitors clean their hands when they enter your room and when they leave.
  • If you have a dressing on a wound or intravenous catheter, keep the skin around it clean and dry. Tell your nurse if the dressing is loose or gets wet.
  • If you have a catheter or drainage tube, let your nurse know if it becomes loose, dislodged or if the area near the catheter becomes red or painful.
  • If you have diabetes, be sure that you and your doctor discuss the best way to control your blood sugar before, during, and after a hospital stay.
  • Carefully follow instructions regarding breathing treatments and getting out of bed.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help, advice, or sufficient pain medications.
  • Tell relatives and friends not to visit if they have a cold or fever. Suggest that they call on the telephone and wait to visit until feeling well.
  • Some illnesses require additional precautions. If needed, a precaution sign may be placed outside your room. It does not identify your illness, but gives staff and visitors instructions on how to prevent spread of infection.

Often the patient's disease or treatments weaken the immune system and its ability to fight off infection. As a result, there is no way to prevent all infections. A patient can become ill even when all guidelines are followed. It is important that we work together to reduce the chance of a patient getting an infection.

Visiting a hospital patient

  • Stay home if you are sick. Do not visit the hospital if you are sick or have had any ill symptoms within the last three days including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, uncontrolled coughing or rash.
  • Perform hand hygiene when you arrive. This protects patients. Perform hand hygiene again when you leave the room to help protect yourself and others.
  • Check first before you bring food, send flowers or take the kids.  While flowers, young visitors and home-baked goodies spread cheer, they may not be allowed, so check with the nurse first. Most hospitals prohibit flowers in intensive care units. Bringing in food can be a problem because the patient may be on a special diet or the food could spoil. Also, check with each facility on rules for children visiting. If you bring children, don't let them play on the floor and have them clean their hands as they enter and leave the room.  Make sure the children are free from symptoms of infection (e.g. runny nose, sore throat, fever, rash, etc.).
  • If the person you are visiting has a sign for extra precautions on the door, read it and follow the instructions. If you're not sure about what you need to do, ask a nurse before entering the room.
  • Do not sit on patient beds or handle their equipment.
  • If you are visiting multiple patients (for instance, if you are a pastor), clean your hands before and after seeing each patient.

If you have questions

If you have questions, please ask your nurse or doctor. You can also contact Infection Prevention and Control with questions; ask your nurse for help contacting a HealthEast Infection Prevention and Control Specialist.