Aardvark Alley

Lutheran Aardvark

Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education, and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer

17 December 2005
  On Washing One's Hands
Pay special attention, pastors and other visitors of the sick.

Washing HandsSamantha Burns commented on a Canadian MP who favo(u)rs paper towels over electric dryers. So do I, and I left the following comment as to why I support Monte Solberg in this:

Mrs. Vark is a Registered Nurse and has been one for well over half her remarkably young and vibrant (in case she's reading this) life. On top of her general training, she was Infectious Disease Control Nurse in a Texas state penal institution for several years.

I'm a pastor and have been one long enough to have been in many more hospitals than has the Mrs., albeit not for as long a time in most as she normally spends. I don't want anyone's germs for myself and certainly don't want to pass them on to people too old, too weak, or already too ill to properly fight them.

As the Dear Wife explains, if one has "poop hands," turns on the water, washes with plenty of soap, and then turns off the water, one has an excellent chance of picking back up the germs he just washed away. Blowing the hands dry will merely warm the little buggers without doing them any great harm. Pressing the button on the electric dryer or grasping the door handle will allow you to drop off a few of the bugs you're already carrying and pick up some deposited by others.

Hence, if you go into many hospital restrooms, you'll find a trash can beside the door. This allows you to do the following: Use the toilet; turn on water and wet hands; soap and scrub for at least 20 seconds (a slow singing of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" is a good timer); rinse hands; grasp paper towel(s) and dry hands; shut off water with a towel; open door with a towel; and drop towel in trash.

If the towel dispenser has one of those push bars or other items requiring contact, it's recommended that you run out a couple feet of toweling before beginning to wash your hands.

It seems silly, but considering some of the hospital-acquired, antibiotic resistant bacteria, rampaging rhinovirii, and various strains of influenza, a little silly sure beats a lot of sick.
 
Comments:
Why silly?

I freely admit to having OCD- I may be the only Lutheran cleric who is a Monk- but this is a matter of simple common sense.

The real issue, though, is getting rid of handles on water faucets, especially in the bathroom. People doubtless consider that silly as well, but more and more public washrooms are going to "electric eyes" for the faucets simply because they've been listening to the public health experts, who have been saying this for years. The fact is that, as pointed out, to wash one's hands and then turn the water off by grasping the handle one just turned the water on with while having dirty hands goes a long way toward defeating the whole purpose of washing your hands in the first place! The habit is so ingrained that nobody thinks about the absurdity of the practice.

Another page from the Adrian Monk, I'm-sane-the-rest-of-the-world-is-
crazy guide to life: public health experts tell us that, depending on the venue, anywhere from forty to eighty percent of the people who use public washrooms never bother to wash their hands at all. Which is why so many doctors, nurses, and public health workers open the doors of public washrooms (which, for some reason, inevitably have the handles on the inside) with a paper towel.

Of course, if paper towels disappeared, so would that option.
 
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