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For Atlanta Hospital News (www.hospitalnews.org)

Casework Keeps Pace with Acute Care Facilities

Protecting Against the Spread of Healthcare-Associated MRSA


By Vice President for Dwyer Products

Many patients and facilities managers are unaware of the role that high quality, well-designed casework equipment can play in assisting providers with the optimum delivery of care and infection control. In recent news, a large spike of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA infection cases in U.S. hospitals is highlighting the need for increased attention to hygienic surfaces, especially in intensive care environments.

Staph strains such as MRSA enter unsuspecting individuals through simple means such as cuts and scrapes, or even through medical materials such as intravenous lines, shunts in the brain, or components in knee/hip/joint replacements, among others. It is in fact more commonplace than one may think, as one in 100 people actually carry the bug but never get sick. However, the worst staph infections can evade even the most powerful antibiotics in our arsenal. The spate of infections has recently prompted the University of Nebraska Medical Center to launch a center for Staphylococcal research. The center’s director, Ken Bayles, says in a CNN.com interview that staph is a growing problem and it is estimated to cause 1.7 million infections each year in the U.S. alone. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) echoes Bayles’ sentiments and says the rate of infection “continues to pose an alarming threat.”

Germ-free casework and worksurfaces are just one step in the fight to prevent infection. "MRSA has become so widespread in the community, that it's become nearly impossible to predict which patients harbor MRSA on their body," says Dr. Aaron Milstone, MD, MHS, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in a press release to the medical community. "Point-of-admission screening in combination with other preventive steps, like isolating the patient and using contact precaution, can help curb the spread of dangerous bacterial infections to other vulnerable patients."

In acute care facilities, replacing old cabinets and surfaces with flexible modular casework that incorporate surfaces that are inhospitable to MRSA and other virulent strains are crucial in the fight against infection. Hygiene, style and durability can be difficult to achieve in one installation. Acute care facilities are 24/7 environments. Surfaces need to be cleaned regularly and have intrinsic properties to protect against the spread of disease and germs.

To meet the unique needs of acute care facilities and to provide sustainable, healthier building products  Dwyer modular medical casework use a variety of tactics. Material choices include Thermofoil, a hypoallergenic, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and moisture-resistant surface that resists chemicals, scratches, cracks, dents, chips and stains. Thermofoil also holds up to repeated cleaning without fading and is impervious to most non-abrasive healthcare cleaning solutions. Thermofoil can be used for walls, work surface or paired with any type of cabinet box (including laminate or steel).

Beyond the hygienic quality of surfaces, indoor air quality is also a growing concern in healthcare facilities to prevent of the spread of air-bound irritants. The GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certification Program gives assurance that products designed for use in indoor environments meet strict chemical emissions limits, which contribute to the creation of healthier interiors. Achieving GREENGUARD Certification gives credence to manufacturers’ sustainability messages, backing them with empirical scientific data from an unbiased, third-party organization. The  Dwyer cabinetry recently received GREENGUARD Children & Schools (SM) Certification, which is the program’s most stringent standard for interior products, materials, furnishings and finish systems.

Additional information about MRSA and preventative steps can be found by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s resources on Healthcare-Associated MRSA, http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/ar_mrsa.html.

To learn more about the Dwyer Products Corporation’s complete line of products, Dwyer’s Modular Medical Casework Line: