It’s Our Hospital – Signs in OUR HOSPITAL

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By Fran Donaldson, Vice Chair, PECM Hospital Foundation

If you have been in our hospital lately – as many have, in this bad flu season – you may have noticed some new signs, and wondered what’s going on.

“Please care for us, while we care for you.
Our hospitals are a place of respect for patients, families, guests and staff.
Aggressive, threatening or disrespectful behavior towards staff or others will not be tolerated.”

These signs have been placed by Quinte Health Care, as part of a workplace safety program initiated by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in response to incidents which have happened in increasing numbers in Ontario hospitals. (You may have heard about a murder-suicide that occurred not very long ago, not very far from here….)

Patients – and their families and visitors – are not at their best when in the hospital – worried or in pain or under stress, suffering from injury or mental illness, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. So it’s understandable that they can be irritable or angry or exhausted or frightened, and their behaviour may not always be pleasant; the dedicated professionals working in our hospital realize that. But there are limits; staff deserve to be respected and protected So workplace safety is a priority in QHC’s current strategic plan, and was discussed at a recent Advisory Council meeting with representatives of the Foundations and Auxiliaries, and QHC Directors and senior staff.

I was surprised to hear people from other hospitals report incidents they knew about, including situations so unpleasant that staff preferred to call in sick rather than be confronted with them, or were trying to ban some visitors because of physical violence. We who were at the meeting on behalf of our hospital had no such stories to share, and I’d like to believe it’s because we’re “different” (as we so often claim), and nothing like that ever happens here. Hmmmm. Nonetheless, the signs are there to remind us all of the need to appreciate and respect those who work every day – and night – doing their best to help us with our aches and pains, accidents and illness.

You may also have noticed, when entering the hospital, that signs about infection control have changed. There’s the usual drill about what to do if you have a cough or fever (Wear a mask!), but the instructions for washing hands has changed, and there are containers of hand sanitizer to use. There’s a story behind that, too.

A recent meeting of the PECMH Auxiliary featured a presentation by Morgan Harness, Infection Control Practitioner for QHC. Morgan explained that hand-washing with soap and water is important, especially if your hands are visibly soiled (eg, from muddy boots or a messy lunch), but alcohol-based hand sanitizers are considered more effective than soap and water in all other circumstances. That’s why they are now available throughout the hospital, and people are encouraged to use them: 1) Apply a thumbnail-sized amount of sanitizer into the palm of your hand. 2) Rub it briskly over the skin, including the back of hands, wrists, between fingers and under fingernails for 15-20 seconds until hands are dry. Morgan had more information for the Auxiliary members who volunteer in the hospital, but for everyone the word is: Clean hands help prevent the spread of infection. And cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.

For further information about our hospital, please call Penny at 476 1008 ext. 4503, Briar at ext. 4425, or Marthe at ext. 4502. You can also visit our website at