Hard to Say It: Woman Admits She’s a Germaphobe

A Toronto woman could not bear the staring (and gossiping) any longer. Finally, she just came out with it and told the she’s a germaphobe (aka germ freak). Her staff, however, had come to that conclusion quite some time ago, and it was reasonably easy to do so.


For instance, Ellen, as we shall call her, always grabbed paper towels before she opened the restroom door, closed the restroom door, and touched the faucet and restroom fixture handles. She never went near the water fountain without paper towels, and she had them handy whenever she picked up the coffee pot in the office kitchen, touched the vending machine, or used the water fountain.


This type of behavior followed her wherever she went. Ellen used her elbows, if no paper towels were handy, to select the floor she wanted on the elevator. Her hand sanitizer was always at the ready before she touched the ATM or rode on an escalator.


When traveling for business, before taking her assigned seat, Ellen would take out her hand sanitizer and wipe down just about any metal or plastic item in the area – including the call buttons above. A coworker that has traveled with her on business trips reports that “as soon as Ellen walks in the hotel guest room, she sprays down everything [with sanitizers] including chairs, tables, the bed, couches. And she tosses the bed comforter in the closet.”


Germaphobes do abound. While not all of us are as fearful of germs as Ellen, many psychologists would likely say she is more psychologically obsessed with germs than she should be. Ellen, they would most probably argue, “sees” germs just about everywhere, turning her germ obsession into mental illness.


But fear of germs is not unfounded and Ellen, in her own way, may actually be telling us something we need to know. And that is, potentially harmful pathogens may be present in more locations and in more significant numbers than we realize.


For instance, a Canadian long-term care home turned to OptiSolve’s cleaning audit and assessment service to identify if, where, and in what quantities germs, bacteria, and other pathogens were present in their facility. What they found was surprising:


  • In the visitor washroom, the light switch, which in most locations has considerable contamination, was not that contaminated at all. The system did indicate contamination was present in the screw indentations on the plate, but not much on the switch itself.


  • Wood handle railings in common areas, on the other hand, were found to be “areas of concern,” indicating significant numbers of pathogens were present. The same was true of the door handle on the refrigerator.


  • Door handles in resident washrooms as well as key and bell controls in a nurses station needed significant cleaning improvement; cleaning protocols must be reviewed, and cleaning frequency increased.


  • Electronic devices such as computer screens and mice, however, were found to be highly contaminated, to the point that there was a real threat of cross-contamination.


While Ellen may “see” germs just about everywhere, with new and advanced imaging technologies and other pathogen-locating systems, we can now know for sure where microbial contamination exists, where they do not, and what steps need to be taken to eradicate them.


For more information on Seeing Your Way to Better Cleaning®, visit optisolve.net, send us a message at info@optisolve.net, or call 1-833-SOLVE-00.


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