Misericordia Health Centre: Microfibre magnificent

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Like any good host Misericordia Health Centre strives to make its visitors as comfortable as possible.

And, as all good hosts know, keeping things clean is a fundamental step in making visitors feel comfortable.

When the question arose how a health-care facility could take steps towards a more sustainable method of cleaning – go “green” per se – and still maintain superior levels of sanitation, Misericordia found the solution in microfibre.

Everyone has seen the commercials for microfibre cloths featuring enthusiastic spokespeople mopping up small floods and cleaning up messes a two-year-old would envy, but do they work off-screen?

According to the Misericordia environmental services team, they most certainly do – in spades.

For the past three years, environmental service attendants at Misericordia have been putting these popular new inventions to work every day in every corner of the facility.

Misericordia pioneered the exclusive use of microfibre cloths in 2006 as the first health-care facility in Winnipeg to make the complete switch and the technology continues to impress staff today.

Environmental service attendants who use the system appreciate the relief from potential back and shoulder problems as they no longer have to fill, transport and change the water for a mop and bucket every three rooms.

The microfibre system uses a small amount of cleaning solution with one mop head and three colour-coded cloths per room: blue for glass, pink for washrooms and green for everything else.

The mop head and cloths are removable and are changed and sent to laundry after each room is cleaned. The only cloths that may be reused from room to room are the blue ones as they are used exclusively on mirrors and windows which hold little to no risk for infection.

Microfibre cloths get their reputation for cleaning efficiency from the knit of millions of miniscule polyester or polyamide fibres. The properties of these fibres and the way they are woven together create an extremely absorbent, efficient cleaning tool.

According to George Patenaude, Misericordia’s director of materiel management and housekeeping services, that environmental efficiency saves Misericordia 400,000 litres of water every year – and upwards of $80,000 annually in supplies and staffing costs. “Not only are we helping the environment, but it made good business sense to change,” says Patenaude.

In addition to the ecological and financial benefits, making the switch works towards solving an even larger issue for any health-care facility: infection control. As each cloth is used for one room alone, it eliminates the risk of cross-contamination from one room to the next. Cases of communicable diseases, infections and ugly spores, like C. difficile, in patient and resident rooms are down significantly throughout the facility.

Although scientific evidence attests that some of those infectious agents, like C. difficile are nearly impossible to kill, the one-time use of each cloth and the thorough wash they receive after any single use decreases the chance of spreading anything from one room to another – unlike a mop and a bucket.

Having that kind of control and success rate over common hospital outbreaks is heartening in the age of antibiotic-resistant super bugs. “It’s win-win-win,” says Patenaude of microfibre. “It’s ecological, it saves us money and our infection control rates have never been better.”

For more information, please visit www.misericordia.mb.ca.