Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Iqaluit October 26, 2016 - 1:10 pm

It’s not dirt, just wax on those dingy floors, Iqaluit hospital director says

Qikqitani General Hospital rooms mopped, disinfected every 12 hours

This photo of the inside of the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit shows gleaming floors—but you can eat through the wax with wipes that contain bleach, says the executive director of hospital services. (FILE PHOTO)
This photo of the inside of the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit shows gleaming floors—but you can eat through the wax with wipes that contain bleach, says the executive director of hospital services. (FILE PHOTO)

"Dirty"— that's what Mary-Lee Aliyak wrote on the floor of the hospital room where her granddaughter was a patient. Unhappy with the hospital room maintenance, she then posted this photo and others on social media. Within hours, the room was cleaned. (FILE PHOTO)

Yes, it’s true—you can write words on the floors of rooms at the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit.

But that’s not because of the dirt: If you take a wipe that contains bleach, you can write through the darker-coloured wax on the floor, leaving a mark.

Dennis Stavrou, the executive director of Iqaluit Health Services, tested this out himself by rubbing a wipe in a corner.

The darker colour on the floor is not dirt, Stavrou said, but rather it comes from the special wax that QGH applies in every room when it changes from one patient to the next.

His test came after Mary-Lee Aliyak, who had complained about the dirty conditions in her granddaughter’s room at the Iqaluit hospital, wrote “dirty” on the bathroom floor and posted a photo of it on social media.

That photo, along with other photos posted Oct. 20, immediately provoked a big response—and resulted in a clean-up of the room.

Rooms are cleaned every 12 hours, Stavrou said.

That being said, he also told Nunatsiaq News hospital cleaners try to be “culturally appropriate” and seek permission to clean because there are generally relatives in the room with patients.

“What we try to do is ensure is that we ask for permission instead of just going in to clean,” he said in an Oct. 25 interview.

if the timing isn’t good, cleaners will return.

“We have the 12-hour standard so we try to adhere to it so it doesn’t lead to a room that’s dirty,” he said.

Stavrou said there is a lot of turnover as well as casuals in the hospital maintenance staff, but that “we are actually happy with our levels of staffing.”

But if you’re not happy about cleanliness in the hospital, you can make complaints here.

General room maintenance includes mopping and disinfecting— although Aliyak said she didn’t see any of that until after she complained.

However, to strip and rewax the floors, the rooms have to be vacant for 10 to 12 hours, Stravou said.

That’s part of the hospital protocol to avoid infections.

Cleaning is among the vital elements of infection prevention and control strategies, states a fact sheet on healthcare-associated infections that develop as a result of their exposure to healthcare facilities or procedures.

And Nunavut continues to show a high rate of infections, such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, known by its acronym, MRSA, which is at least 30 times higher in Nunavut than in the South.

This infection is caused by a type of bacteria that’s become resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections.

Most MRSA infections occur in people who’ve been to hospitals or other health care facilities, although Stavrou said the QGH is not better or worse than other Canadian hospitals with respect to hospital-acquired infections.

“The staff are very, very diligent in monitoring current infections but also in ensuring new infections are prevented and mitigated,” Stavrou said. “Obviously, we’e not going to be able to prevent all infections.”

In its last accreditation round, the QGH received an 80 per cent grade for its compliance with what the national accreditation body calls “High Priority Infection Prevention and Control Standards.”

The QGH regained its overall hospital accreditation in 2015 for a four-year period.

To get accredited, a hospital must meet certain minimum standards.

In late 2005, the national accreditation body, then called the Canadian Council on Health Services, refused to grant accreditation to the hospital, when it was still lodged in its former 1960s-era building.

Until then, the hospital had been accredited since the early 1990s. Five years after the new $64-million QGH wing opened, the hospital’s accreditation was renewed from 2012 to 2015.

Before the Oct. 24 Nunatsiaq News story pointed out that Accreditation Canada map didn’t show the QGH on its map of accredited hospitals, it looked as if the QGH had lost its accreditation again.

But in its last accreditation round, the QGH received an overall compliance rate of 89.3 per cent—up from 83 per cent in 2012.

As for its omission from the map, that was because the hospital address was given as a postal box, and that couldn’t be included on the map. Now, after the health department sent in a street address, you can see it here.

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