Infection Prevention & Control

Share This Page

Our goal at Niagara Health is to provide a quality, safe patient environment, which includes ongoing vigilance with the highest standards of infection prevention and control.

Dr. Bahareh Ghadaki


Our Infection Prevention and Control experts works with all other members of the Niagara Health team to ensure the safety and protection of our patients and of those working in or visiting the hospital.  This work includes robust surveillance, education and collaboration with our patients, staff and visitors.

Some of the ways our teams are working to keep our patients safe include:

  • Following provincial and federal best practice guidelines for infection prevention and control
  • Having comprehensive hand hygiene program
  • Having  a state-of-the-art cleaning program
  • Having an antibiotics stewardship program that is focused on ensuring the responsible use of antibiotics and reducing the risk of resistant infections.
  • We’re transparent in reporting infection rates and hand hygiene audits.
  • Having a process in place to review, analyze, learn and improve infection control practices

If you’re visiting a hospital, follow these important tips:

  • If you’re visiting a patient or getting treatment, remember to clean your hands when you enter and leave the hospital and before eating. Soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub should be used.
  • If you’re visiting a patient who has special isolation instructions posted by the door of his/her patient room, be sure to follow the instructions completely and all the time. These may include wearing a gown and gloves while you’re in the patient’s room, not touching the patient or equipment/furniture in the room, not using the patient’s bathroom, and washing your hands before and after putting on gloves.
  • Patients – Ask your doctor, nurse, other health care professional and all visitors to clean their hands before touching you. It’s your right as a patient, so speak up.

Hand Washing

Handwashing Instructions

Are you washing your hands properly? Follow these simple steps to ensure a clean result!

  • Use warm running water and soap.
  • Rub hands together briskly for 15 seconds (about the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday)
  • Rinse hands thoroughly and dry with a clean paper towel.
  • Use paper towel to turn off the tap.
  • Use these tips at home too!

Make sure you wash your hands:

  • Before and after visiting a patient.
  • After coughing or blowing your nose.
  • After using the washroom.
  • Before eating.

Waterless alcohol-based hand rub dispensers can be found throughout the hospital.

Our protocols and practices exceed the provincial standard

We continue to maintain high standards with our cleaning, based on best practices, and we continue to provide expertise and advice in this area to other hospitals across the country. We conduct regular audits of our environments and cleaning process. And we have standardized processes for regular cleaning and isolation cleaning. Our Environmental Services department also works in partnership with our Infection Prevention and Control team to maintain these high standards. Our staffing levels were increased when we opened our new hospital in St. Catharines, and the staffing levels across our sites have been maintained since then. A new trigger system that enables us to quickly respond to increased activity, including suspected C. difficile cases, with enhanced cleaning and patient isolation. Here are some other ways we are exceeding the provincial standard:
  • Cleaning practices related to C. difficile and other hospital-acquired infections have been enhanced. This includes twice daily cleaning of rooms with patients who are in contact isolation, deep cleaning of specific units as required, full facility cleans, and enhanced housekeeping audits and checklists.
  • We have extended the use of sporicidal agents across our sites, vs. use solely in patient bathrooms.
  • Terminal clean – more intensive cleaning – takes place across facilities; units with increased activity.
  • Regular hand hygiene audits of staff and physicians will continue to ensure 100 per cent compliance with best practice. Staff and physicians must clean their hands before and after every contact with a patient and the patient environment, as well as before an aseptic procedure and after body fluid exposure risk.
  • Ongoing screening of ER patients, inpatients and outpatients, including those coming to clinics and for tests.
  • Genetic testing (PCR) for C. difficile; more accurate, detecting more cases.
  • We have created additional private capacity for patients requiring isolation.
  • There are limits on movement of equipment between units.
  • We continue to use a marking system to identify cleaned equipment. This ensures staff use only equipment that has been thoroughly cleaned according to infection prevention and control standards.
  • Food and drink is discouraged in patient rooms unless it is for the patients.
  • Antibiotic stewardship enhancements are ongoing across our sites.
  • Enhanced transparency and clear communication approach continues.
  • Clear signage, hand hygiene stations, and overhead voice message concerning the need for hand hygiene are present.

Restrictions on pets & plants

The public is asked not to bring pets or plants to the hospital.

This restriction does not include service and therapy animals. The visitation of pets belonging to patients will be reviewed in by our Infection Prevention and Control department on an individual basis in compassionate circumstances.

Flowers and plants in the hospital are generally discouraged as per the provincial Infection Control and Resource Team recommendations. Flowers and plants are strictly prohibited in critical care areas such as the Intensive Care Unit, the Complex Care Unit, and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Animals and plants are sources that can transmit bacteria, and we hope people will understand that this measure is important to prevent the spread of infection.

Restrictions on food & drinks

Visitors are asked not to bring food or drink into the hospital to eat while visiting patients. The only people who should be eating or drinking in the patient rooms are the patients. If you do bring in food for your loved ones, please check in with the nursing station as is the usual practice because they may be on a special diet.

Niagara Health System