Antimicrobial Copper is Keeping Up Appearances at Pullman Regional Hospital

Antimicrobial Copper is Keeping Up Appearances at Pullman Regional Hospital
08 Jul 2015

By Megan Guido, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Pullman Regional Hospital

Pullman Regional Hospital continues to deploy our strategy to replace stainless steel high touch points with copper to get the biggest bang for our buck. In addition to the 1,100 copper drawer handles, 146 copper faucets levers and 20 copper push plates we have already replaced over the past year, we are installing copper door handles in clinical areas and copper push pads in the operating rooms. Our goal is to install copper armrests on chairs and bedrails, as well as replace our sinks in central sterile with copper sinks in the future. We are hoping to apply for a second grant (the first came from the Copper Development Association in 2014) to help fund ongoing installations, but for now, we continue to replace stainless steel touch points based on the hospital’s available resources.

Photo 3A key learning throughout this journey is the appearance of copper and the different copper blends. Of course, we know that copper is one of the cleanest surfaces in terms of the antimicrobial properties but staff and patients can equate the natural tarnishing of copper with age and dirt.  Our environmental services staff works hard to keep all our appliances and touch points shiny and clean. We found that a mix of predominantly copper material with a small percentage of other copper alloys, such as nickel or tin, can give the appearance of shiny, stainless steel but still have the antimicrobial benefits. For 100 percent copper fixtures, our environmental services staff has found Bar Keepers soap to be highly effective for cleaning and polishing.

 

*Laboratory testing shows that, when cleaned regularly, antimicrobial copper surfaces kill greater than 99.9% of the following bacteria within 2 hours of exposure: MRSA, VRE, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter aerogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and E. coli O157:H7. Antimicrobial copper surfaces are a supplement to and not a substitute for standard infection control practices and have been shown to reduce microbial contamination, but do not necessarily prevent cross contamination or infections; users must continue to follow all current infection control practices.
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