Elmhurst Hospital is now using a powerful new weapon against hospital-acquired infections – the Altapure HJ-30i high-level disinfection system. Altapure targets highly drug-resistant organisms, such as Clostridium difficile (C. diff), that pose the most urgent threat and can survive on surfaces for weeks.
Altapure's ultrasonic machine delivers a mixture of substances in the form of a mist that covers all surfaces in the room, expanding into every crevice. The result is a 100 percent kill of bacteria, viruses and spores.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, at least two million people in this country become infected with drug-resistant bacteria each year and at least 23,000 die from these infections. While antibiotic-resistant infections can happen anywhere, hospitals and other healthcare facilities have a special challenge in preventing transmission of these infections to patients.
"Our patients come to us because they are sick or injured. We are determined to prevent them from acquiring an infection while they're in the hospital,” says Annemarie Schmocker, Infection Control Manager, Elmhurst Hospital. “Over the years, we've strived to achieve a zero rate of healthcare-acquired infections. The Altapure disinfection system is an enhanced component of the prevention measures already in place."
Stevie Binion is the hospital's Manager, Operations and Environmental Services, a department that's key to achieving the zero rate goal. His department's housekeeping staff place the Altapure equipment in a patient care area or hospital room after a patient with one of several designated drug-resistant infections is discharged or transferred.
In addition to C. diff, the extremely drug-resistant organisms include Klebsiella pneumoniae, carbapenemase (KPC), carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE), norovirus, rotavirus, VRE, ESBLs/ampC beta-lactamase producing and any highly infectious pathogen that could emerge, such as Ebola.
"During the first 45 minutes of the 90-minute disinfection, housekeeping staff manually clean the room and all its contents,” says Binion. “This includes equipment from outside the room that they've moved into the room. They seal the room with blue painters tape, post an "Altapure in process sign," close intake and outtake vents, and remotely start the disinfection from outside the room. When the process is over, they wipe down the room again."
"This system represents a revolutionary change in how we clean. It eliminates the variability that happens when a person disinfects a room,” says Pamela Dunley, Vice President, Chief Operating Officer/Chief Nursing Officer, Elmhurst Hospital. “Now when we clean rooms that were exposed to higher-risk (organisms), we can exactly reproduce the same process each time. It's safer for the staff, as well as the patients."
To date, eight to ten patient rooms a day receive an Altapure high-level disinfection. The system is also part of the routine disinfection process for patient care areas including the OR, emergency department, cath lab, endoscopy and Family Birthing Center.
According to Schmocker, "Staff have said, 'I feel comfortable and safe having my loved ones come to Elmhurst.' I feel that way, too. Peace of mind comes from a process like this that shows a true commitment and dedication to patient safety."
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