Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Loyola Medicine Recognizes National Handwashing Awareness Week

MAYWOOD, IL – With cold and flu season picking up, Loyola Medicine's Ellen Parker, MD, says an easy but crucial step to staying healthy this winter is something we already do: handwashing.

"Proper hand hygiene is so important, especially during the winter and holiday season," said Dr. Parker, internist and pediatrician at the Loyola Center for Health at Oak Park North. "Some colds and respiratory infections could be prevented with handwashing, so I encourage adults to brush up on best practices and show children the right way to wash their hands."   

To mark the start of National Handwashing Awareness Week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer these key times to thoroughly wash your hands:

  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • 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 touching garbage

Dr. Parker recommends washing with soap and warm water as the best way to clean hands in most situations. "You want to get a good lather going. Wet the hands thoroughly and apply soap all over the hands – front, back and fingertips," Dr. Parker said. "The friction from rubbing the soap and water is what helps rid the hands of germs."

If soap and water are not available to you, the next best thing to use is an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Dr. Parker suggests looking for one composed of at least 60 percent alcohol as studies have shown that hand sanitizers with lower amounts of alcohol are not as effective in killing germs.  

When using hand sanitizer, the CDC suggests applying enough hand sanitizer to cover all the surfaces of the hands (palms, fingertips, tops of the hand) and to rub all exposed areas together until dry.

Like a lot of Americans, you may commute to school and work via public transit. Dr. Parker suggests keeping available a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer. "The rails on public transit are a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses," said Dr. Parker.

If sick, Dr. Parker suggests handwashing after coughing and blowing your nose. "Covering your mouth is important but we often forget to wash our hands afterwards." For children however, remembering to cover your mouth can be difficult. "I often tell my younger patients to cough into the fold of their arm – we call it the chicken wing."

Arming yourself and your family with these simple handwashing tips can help keep you healthy this winter season. 

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH) on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, and Loyola Outpatient Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 247-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

About Trinity Health

Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 93 hospitals, as well as 122 continuing care programs that include PACE, senior living facilities, and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $17.6 billion and assets of $23.4 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity Health employs about 131,000 colleagues, including 7,500 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity Health is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services — ranked by number of visits — in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs. For more information, visit www.trinity-health.org. You can also follow @TrinityHealthMI on Twitter.