By Christie Vanover

Darnall Amy Medical Center

public affairs

Just in time for Halloween, a room of horrors haunted staff at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.

Army 2nd Lt. Imasore, who was involved in a training accident, was lying in the room waiting for staff to tend to his needs.

He was surrounded by hazards that could lead to infection, and physicians, nurses and other staff members were asked to identify the risks.

Fortunately, "Imasore" was never in any real danger because the manikin patient was just part of a training scenario for Infection Control Week, Oct. 17-23.

Chris Guerra, Infection Control nurse, set up this year's room of horrors contest as a fun way to remind staff to be on the lookout for infection dangers.

"We've gotten a lot of responses, and people are really thinking. I have 19 things they're supposed to find, and they're coming up with 20-30 things," she said.

"His bed is flat. The head of the bed is supposed to be up. His dressing is saturated, so it needs to be changed. We left a syringe in the bed, which you never do," she said, explaining some of the errors.

International Infection Prevention Week was celebrated to highlight awareness of the critical need to protect patients and the public from the risk of infection.

"When a patient gets an infection while they're here in the hospital, it intensifies and makes their length of stay longer, and it increases their discomfort and unhappiness," said Lt. Col. Lorraine Roehl, chief of Infection Control.

She and her team pride themselves on the fact that CRDAMC has a low rate of health care-associated infections. They attribute that success to hand washing, surveillance and education.

What are more common than health care-associated infections are infections that develop in the community, which is why this year's theme, Infection Prevention is Everyone's Business, was so relevant.

"We teach, teach, teach. Teach the patients. Teach the family. Teach the staff," Roehl said.

Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, commonly referred to as MRSA, is a bacterium that is resistant to common antibiotics. It can be spread by skin-to-skin contact and by touching contaminated items.

"MRSA is increasing in leaps and bounds, and people need to be aware of not sharing sports equipment in the schools," Roehl said. "If they have open sores, definitely don't share anything. Wipe it down."

According to the Center for Disease Control, MRSA is commonly found in military barracks, dormitories, athletic facilities, correctional facilities and daycare centers.

To decrease the risk of getting MRSA, the CDC website recommends the following:

Keep your hands clean, use a barrier like clothing or towels between you and any surfaces you share with others (like gym equipment) and shower immediately after activities that involve direct skin contact with others.

"Don't scratch wounds if it looks like a bug bite," Roehl added, "because it's probably more of an infection."

People who think they might have MRSA should contact the Nurse Advice Line at (254) 553-3695. They may be referred to their Primary Care Manager who will help treat the infection, and the Infection Control team can provide one-on-one patient training at the hospital or outlying clinics.

"Preventing infections is so important. It starts with hand washing," said Roehl. "Infection doesn't sleep. Germs are alive and well."

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