Have you ever been forced to ride the hospital shuttle bus and sat there wondering “Who sat in this seat last and how sick were they?” Or if you are like me and have children, the first words you mutter to your precious bundles of joy are “Don’t touch anything!” Why is it that when we visit hospitals or utilize any of the associated services, like shuttle buses, we have a tendency to be cautious about touching stuff? The answer is very simple: We don’t want to catch an illness we didn’t bring with us.
I got an HAI!
Hospital patients are more often than not, suddenly struck with an illness unrelated to the reason they were admitted for. This is called a Healthcare Associated Infection (HAI): an illness contracted in a healthcare facility. The scary truth behind HAI’s is that, according to the Center for Disease Control, there are more than 1 million reported infections and 100,000 HAI related deaths per year in the US and Canada. That’s 1 in 25 hospital patients catching diseases they did not bring with them! Not to mention when a patient is deemed to have caught an illness in the hospital, insurance will deny the reimbursement for the treatment forcing the hospital to pay the bill. This number can climb upwards of $100,000 per case!
So why are we catching diseases at the hospital facilities? The answer is simple- cleanliness. There are many great processes in place inside hospitals to limit HAI’s such as hand washing protocols, room cleaning, and surgical sterilization. But what about shuttle buses? Patients, visitors, or employees riding the hospital shuttle bus could be catching or bringing bacteria into the shuttle bus and eventually into the hospital. However, it is the hospital rather than the patient who will get blamed. It’s the same reason your local grocery store offers sanitizing wipes next to the cart corral. They are acutely aware that dirty hands touch the cart multiple times per day and they don’t want you to be at risk nor blame the store!
The inside of the shuttle bus should be treated like a “mobile patient room”. Disinfection methods include multiple antibacterial clean ups per day, hand sanitizer and surgical masks by the door, and awareness signage posted inside the bus. While hand washing is still the #1 prevention measure, the reality is that people don’t do this thoroughly. Approximately 50% of people follow the proper hand washing procedures, leaving for the slack to be picked up through cleaning measures. This is why hospitals place have such stringent procedures and high standards for their housekeeping departments.
It all Starts with Parking
Since parking operations is the first point of contact that people have with the hospital, the attention to sanitization should be comparable. Are we here to move people around or be a part of the difference hospitals make?
I leave you with 1 challenge. Next time you go to an inner city hospital, park in a remote lot and ride the shuttle bus. Take a seat and look around. Do you feel as if patient care and sanitization are the top priority?