How Towel Dispensers Can Prevent Spread of Infections

Proper hand washing can help limit the spread of disease.

By Mackenna Moralez

Flu season is quickly approaching, and with a new wave of COVID-19 cases making its way through the country, nearly everyone is trying to avoid getting sick. The simplest advice in protecting against seasonal colds is to effective hand washing. In hospitals and other healthcare facilities, proper hand washing is especially important because it can help prevent the spread of infection to vulnerable patients. Healthcare Facilities Today talks with paper towel dispenser manufacturers on the ways their products help keep infections at bay. 

Why do you believe towel dispensers are essential to hospitals and other healthcare facilities? What other benefits do they serve? 

“Hospitals and other healthcare facilities require staff to wash hands before treating patients. Touchless, automatic soap and paper towel dispensers support frequent, thorough and effective hand washing and hand drying. Effective hand washing and hand drying reduces the transmission of disease. Hand washing and drying by staff in front of patients gives patients peace of mind that the facility and its staff supports public health and hygiene.” 

— Alan Gettelman, vice president of external affairs, Bobrick Washroom Equipment 

“Hand towel dispensers should be viewed as essential tools needed to provide a safe, hygienic environment for patients, staff, and guests as they are integral in the elimination of one of the links in the chain of infection (a moist reservoir for pathogens). Towels can also assist in the removal of dirt and pathogens from surfaces and serve as a protective barrier when engaging with a high touch surface. In addition, we should not forget the importance of utilizing innovative towel dispensers in patient rooms. When selecting a dispenser, it is important to take into consideration ease of use and how quiet it is so that it does not interfere with the patient’s healing process. Patients need to rest comfortably and not be disturbed by power or battery-operated dispensers. Having a quiet, hygienic environment improves a hospital’s survey scores, which helps generate more revenue.” 

— Marika White, Tork Hygiene Advisor, Essity 

“Hospitals and healthcare facilities are charged with protecting a vulnerable population of patients, as well as staff, visitors and ultimately, the community at large. As part of that, unlike other types of facilities, those involved in patient care must meet specific infection prevention and hand hygiene compliance goals. Yes, those goals are set to support patient care and improve patient outcomes, but they are also designed to help reduce costs. According to a recent Harvard study, the five most common infections patients get while in the hospital cost the U.S. health care system nearly $10 billion per year. While paper towel dispensers will not in and of themselves eliminate every incidence of healthcare-acquired infections, as I noted above, they play a critical role in supporting proper hand hygiene, and proper hand hygiene can reduce the spread of drug-resistant bacteria, decrease infection rates, and lower costs that stem from healthcare acquired infections.” 

— Julie Howard, vice president and general manager, GP PRO towel and napkin categories 

Mackenna Moralez is the associate editor of the facilities market. 

October 13, 2022

Topic Area: Infection Control , Maintenance and Operations , Safety

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