New Hospital Tech Tracks Hand Washing

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Gwendolyn Johnson knows the best way to prevent the spread of hospital infections, wash your hands.

"Because it's going to help kill all these germs that we take out onto the street where I work and here," says Gwendolyn Johnson, a patient at SSM St. Mary's in Richmond Heights. "We take these germs out into society."

When this nurse of 56 years became a patient, she was excited to see the new technology that SSM St. Mary's Health Center is using.

"People's hands are the easiest and number one way for people to spread germs from one place to the next or from one person to the next," says infection preventionist Theresa Gratton. "So keeping your hands clean is the number one most important thing that we can do to keep our patients safe and make sure infections are not spreading from patient to patient."

SSM St. Mary's is the first in the nation to give nurses these badges that can monitor if they have clean hands. Orbs in the ceiling track every time a nurse comes in and out of a patient room. If a nurse forgets, the badge gives a gentle reminder.

"The simple way for me to take care of this is to put the gel on my hands, rub it in and waft it over the badge and I'm green and clean," says Gratton. "So it only takes a second for our staff members to show our staff how important our patient safety is to us and them."

That will come in handy when this patient heals and gets back to work in the health care field.

"It should have come out longer, before now," says Johnson. "Nobody was that smart yet."