When visiting hospitals in Philadelphia and New York, we encountered hand sanitizing gel dispensers almost everywhere and make use of them, realizing that every thing touched in a hospital has a potential for transmitting disease.
According to John Hopkins Medicine, “Good hand hygiene – washing hands or using a hand sanitizing gel – is the number one way to prevent the spread of germs.
Health care workers should wash their hands before and after caring for each patient.
Patients, families, and visitors should also practice good hand hygiene.”
Clean Links states: “Many hospitals are now placing dispensers next to check-in desks, medication carts, nurse’s stations, outside patient rooms, and inside patient rooms next to soap dispensers.”
“Making sure everyone follows correct hand hygiene protocol at your hospital is important. It’s hard enough to get doctors and nurses to wash their hands regularly, but you also have to worry about visitors’ hand hygiene.”
One source writes: “Many hospitals are now placing dispensers next to check-in desks, medication carts, nurse’s stations, outside patient rooms, and inside patient rooms next to soap dispensers.”
Another article stresses the importance of prominent placement of dispensers at the entryway to the hospital to help protect patients from germs brought into the hospital by visitors.
Yet on recent visits to Lancaster General Hospital, we were surprised at a scarcity of hand sanitizing gel dispensers on the floors. Last week we walked from the blood lab in the annex across Duke Street to the garage at the main entrance on James Street without encountering a dispenser.
We hurried home and washed our hands. But that was a little late, since in driving our car and entering our residence we were conceivably spreading disease.
But there is danger to gel dispenser. If touching activates them, they themselves can become contaminated. So they either need to dispense automatically or at least be frequently wiped with an antiseptic.
Perhaps LGH has an explanation for its apparent laxity. We would welcome it.