Today is International Nurses Day, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale.
Healing Through Cleanliness: Infection Prevention and Control is an essential part of today’s healthcare. Florence Nightingale can be credited for this important practice. Her philosophy of cleanliness and sanitation in order to prevent infection in hospitalized patients began during the Crimean War and has had a lasting and major impact on infection control in hospitals to this day. Nightingale’s approach to health care was holistic, and she also emphasized nutrition as a way of improving or preventing infection. She is credited as the founder of holistic nursing, and she also stressed ‘evidence-based’ practice.
Infection Prevention and Control. Many of today’s procedures for preventing hospital acquired infections (HAI’s) include standard, contact, droplet, airborne and universal precautions. Each precaution has specific guidelines, policy and protocols. Florence Nightingale spoke of these as the means for preventing infection control in the 1850’s –
- Clean hands,
- Clean environment,
- Sanitizing bedrails and doorknobs,
- Sterilizing hospital equipment before and after patient care.
Florence Nightingale on infection control – “Every nurse ought to be careful to wash her hands very frequently during the day. If her face too, so much the better.” (1)
Many healthcare specialists today cite hand washing as the single most important method for preventing the transmission of disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stresses the importance of hand washing to aid in the prevention of disease, especially at this time of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. (Hand washing/in Spanish). Teaching children to wash hands properly (with soap and water for 20 minutes) can lead to a life-long practice of good hand hygiene. Clean Hand Campaign offers teaching materials.
Key Times to Wash Hands from the CDC:
You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Be happy.