This press release was orginally distributed by ReleaseWire
Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 12/06/2021 -- Three simple words can help stop the spread of some of the most common illnesses: Wash your hands.
Whether it's COVID-19, influenza, colds, or other bacteria or viruses, hand washing remains a simple, yet often overlooked, front line defense against a host of ailments, according to experts at Intermountain Healthcare.
"It's always important," said Crissy Elliott, infection preventionist for Intermountain St. George Regional Hospital. "Unfortunately, people don't always see the importance of it. They get in a hurry and go about their day."
Often it's the lack of "seeing" the importance that has the biggest impact.
"I think, as with a lot of infections, what you can't see is harder to grasp," Elliott said. "If you got mud on your hands, most people are not going to want to go about their day until they can wash it off. But when they can't see it, it doesn't seem to affect people."
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, an increased fear of the disease seemed to bring hand washing to the forefront of people's minds, Elliott said, but some people are starting to even worry about that less.
In the hospital setting, Elliott said hand hygiene is a topic of discussion with staff and leadership at least once a week. But, she added, you can't just talk about it. You have to make it easy for people to wash their hands at the right times.
Transferring some of the methods used in the hospital into every day life could include keeping hand sanitizer easily accessible when you come in the door, having a habit of washing hands right after school, reminding everyone to wash their hands before eating and, of course, after using the bathroom.
"You just have to incorporate it into the flow of your life with processes to make it super easy," Elliott said. "If someone has to look around for a sink or a bottle of hand sanitizer, they're not going to wash as often."
Elliot said that although people often wonder, the debate over which is more effective — sanitizer versus soap and water — is more about the different times when each product might be more efficient or necessary.
"Sanitizer is an alcohol product and will kill most germs, but it doesn't remove any dirt," Elliott said. "If you get someone else's bodily fluids on your hands, you don't want to just smear it around with alcohol. And there are other times, such as food preparation, before and after eating, that you'll want to wash your hands with soap and water."
However, if you consider all the things you touch during an average grocery store visit, it makes sense to use sanitizer as soon as you get in your car, Elliott said. "You can get into the habit of sanitizing before you put your seatbelt on."
It's just really important to keep a focus on hand washing every day, not just during a certain season or holiday, Elliott said. "It's always going to be important, and one of the easiest things we can do to prevent the spread of germs."
About Intermountain Healthcare
Intermountain Healthcare is a nonprofit system of 25 hospitals, 225 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,600 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Utah, Idaho, and Nevada. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in clinical quality improvement and in efficient healthcare delivery. For more information about Intermountain, visit intermountainhealthcare.org, read our blogs, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
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