A Trip to the Hospital Turns into a Lesson in MRSA

Walking into the hospital is always daunting because it’s confusing and not a place people visit under normal circumstances.  So when I went to St. Paul’s last week after my grandpa had open heart surgery I tried to be prepared.  I looked up maps so I wouldn’t get lost meeting my sister in the hospital and set off with my “Get Well Soon” balloon in tow.  The one thing I wasn’t prepared for was the ensuing reality check.

As we began our trek to the cardiac unit, my sister insisted we stop at every hand washing station.  No, she doesn’t have obsessive compulsive disorder; she works in a hospital so she knows the importance of maintaining proper hygiene.

After we rounded the corner into my grandpa’s room, the need for the hand washing stations became readily apparent.  His stitches had barely begun to heal and there was a bag on his chest so that when he coughed it wouldn’t feel like his rib cage was going to pop open.  He was undoubtedly in a vulnerable state.

Since I began working at Ondine Biomedical I have learned more than I ever thought I would about bacteria, infections and gum disease.  When I went into the hospital the thought of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and MRSA did fleetingly occur to me, but after walking into grandpa’s room those thoughts leapt to the front of my mind.  MRSA and other bacteria thrive in people whose immune systems have been compromised and my grandpa would certainly be included in that category.  There’s no way his body could heal and try to stave off deadly infections at the same time after such invasive surgery.

I suddenly felt like a germaphobe as I looked at every door handle, button and faucet with fresh eyes.  It would be so easy for one touch to transmit bacteria onto my grandpa and begin a cycle of infection that would kill him.  The hospital staff were excellent but there’s always a way for things to sneak through.

Before going to St. Paul’s to visit my grandpa, MRSA was something I knew about from work.  From all the facts I had learned I was very aware of how dangerous it is, but MRSA had almost seemed abstract and far away.  The possibility of contracting MRSA became very real for me after I went to the hospital and saw how easily it could be transmitted to patients, visitors and staff.  I was quite surprised that visiting my grandpa added a whole new level of understanding and appreciation for my work.

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2 Responses to “A Trip to the Hospital Turns into a Lesson in MRSA”

  1. Brenda Roberson says:

    I am a nurse who took all the precautions, but caught MRSA from a patient. I almost died. It went systemic and then decided to eat part of my spine. I will never be the same. After 6 surgeries and multiple pins, rods and a cage around my spine I was able to go back to work. This is something to take very serious. Remember, once you have it, it never goes away. It may be colonized but the effects of it are there forever.

  2. Cheryl Folston says:

    My 89 year old mother died of MRSA two years ago, while hospitalized. One thing I did take note of is that hospitals are not as sterile as they used to be. People come in under all types of circumstances and don’t even need to wash hands or put on protective clothing, especially with newborns. Hospitals are so busy trying to push people out after major surgeries they are no longer taking sanitation into consideration. They should be sued.

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