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There is an ongoing debate between reusables versus disposables in healthcare mired in confusion. Some of that confusion may stem from the marketers of the disposables industry hoping to steer healthcare organizations away from reusables. So, do reusables need a reevaluation? Clean Matters gathered Lurlie Moro, Regional Sales Manager at UMF Corporation, John Scherberger, Owner of Healthcare Risk Mitigation, and Greg Gicewicz, President & CEO of Sterile Surgical Systems, for answers.
Contrary to some reports that may exist, Moro said current infection prevention strategies for laundering and handling healthcare textiles appear to be adequate in preventing HAIs. “It’s important to look at facts versus fiction when you see any of this research.”
No matter what study is available, Gicewicz said it was wise to do one’s research and dig deeper to ensure there wasn’t an ulterior motive behind it. In one such study trying to downplay the effectiveness of microfiber reusables, Gicewicz noted the microfibers used in the study were not laundered and tested in an accredited facility or put through proper standards and best practices.
Disposables may qualify as microfiber, but Scherberger said all is not what it seems. “The disposable microfiber products are taking the definition of microfiber to its extreme. Microfiber is a fiber that is seven all the way down to 1 micron.” Compare that with an ultra-microfiber reusable, which is .3 microns. A micron is a millionth of a yard. This bi-component product is split with a filament so that it is so tiny it can reach into the smallest nooks & crannies, to trap, capture, and remove bacteria, pathogens, viruses, spores, and dirt. In contrast, the typical 7, or 1-to-7-micron disposables contain too large of a filament to trap, capture, and remove the same elements. If a healthcare facility is looking for the best sterilization for textiles, one method is a clear choice: reusables.View the Apple PodcastView on Spotify
Moro noted that COVID-19 changed infection prevention. “Before, there was the focus on preventing healthcare-associated infections, and a clean guest room was the gold standard. Disinfection wasn’t in the spotlight, but not it’s a hyper-focus.”
That tunnel vision on disinfection was about keeping surfaces clean, bringing about questionable methods not based on science. Hicks pointed to the revelation that the CDC confirmed the virus is transmitted through the air and not on surfaces.
Moro said, “We should be treating COVID like any other HAI and treating it accordingly. This hygiene theater is counterproductive.”
Hicks concurred with Moro’s stance. “The messaging was your health and hygiene are important to us with hand sanitizer and wipes. Now there are no wipes, and the hand sanitizers are empty. I don’t know what we’ve really accomplished.”
By having such a singular perspective on disinfecting, foggers became prevalent. However, Hicks noted that a fogger doesn’t equate to better practices. “We saw these scenes of fogging the streets, and I wondered who cleaned the streets first? Applying disinfectant to a surface that’s not clean won’t matter.”
Savage commented that foggers provided this “illusion that hotels are cleaned better than they were before.” He shared a recent experience of seeing a housekeeper waving one around in a lobby. “He was going through the motions but not doing anything except putting chemicals in the air.”
The mixed, inconsistent messaging by companies to deliver a sense of calm and clean backfired. Savage offered examples of once avid travelers now distrustful of hotels, cruise lines, and airlines because of these theatrics. “After they pulled back the current, they no longer trust the travel experience.”View the Apple PodcastView on Spotify
Many things have changed from pre-COVID to post-COVID in the world of infection prevention. Hospitals had to adapt to new strategies to combat the highly infectious virus, which swept across the globe.
On this episode of the podcast, Host Tyler Kern talked with Mark Hodgson, Senior Vice President at Medentech, a company that develops, manufactures, and markets disinfection products. Kern is also joined by George Clarke, CEO at PerfectCLEAN, which produces, manufactures, and distributes high-performance textiles for the commercial cleaning and infection control market. The trio discussed Healthcare-associated infections and took a deep dive into biofilm, which is the infection threat you’ve probably never heard of, but you definitely should.
“Pre-COVID, hospitals and nursing homes were primarily concerned with preventing healthcare-associated infections, or HAIs,” Clarke explained. C.Diff, Staph, or MRSA primarily cause these infections. Biofilm was also a significant concern amongst healthcare providers pre-COVID.
“So, pre-COVID, clean hotel rooms were top of mind for hotel guests when selecting and being loyal to a hotel brand,” Clarke said. “Cruise lines were primarily concerned with preventing an outbreak of Norovirus. Nursery schools and K12 schools were concerned with the flu and spreading the common cold.”
But, COVID-19 caused the world to undergo a crash course in infections. Listen to hear more about how the healthcare system is battling the war on infection.