Toronto Hospital Hygiene in Practice

After SARS swept through the city, some bright researcher polled airports all over the continent and discovered that most men in Pearson’s bathrooms, unlike everywhere else, washed their hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the facilities. Can I just say, ewww gross, to all of you who don’t! This remarkably high level of hygiene was probably because practically every night on the news we saw a doctor from a certain downtown Toronto hospital talking up the fine points of hand washing and hygiene as the best way to prevent the spread of illnesses like SARS and colds. This same hospital was probably the one that spread the gospel of hand sanitizers as a good alternative to old-fashioned soap and water. Bottles of hand sanitizers popped up in hospitals all over the city, appearing at entrances and exits, next to doctors’ offices and neonatal care units, anywhere a human being might be.

Since then every year, during flu season, we get regular updates from that certain hospital’s infectious diseases specialists, about the benefits and necessity of good hygiene to prevent the spread of deadly illnesses like the flu, and when the news gets slow and they want to frighten us, they also include the fact that hygiene is probably the only thing that will save us from the avian flu.

So why then do the bathrooms in this particular downtown Toronto hospital look like a cesspool?


I tried to take photos of it all, but could only point and shoot at the best of the mess. The ewww factor was too much for the rest of this space. I had a chat with one hospital staff worker about the fact it was only midway during the day and, uh, when was this bathroom going to be cleaned, especially the toilets? Oh, she said, the janitors come only once a day, at 5:00 pm.

Only once a day at 5:00 pm? Hours from when I was there?


This talking-head on-the-news hygiene-obsessed hospital thinks that only a once-a-day swabbing and cleaning up of its constantly used public bathrooms is sufficient to prevent the spread of illness? This same here-is-how-one-must-wash-the-hands-to-prevent-flu message spreader thinks that the state of this waste can is a great way to keep one’s hands clean?


Apparently trying to shove used paper towel into an overflowing bin is not a concern for the infectious diseases specialists at this downtown Toronto hospital. They have, after all, ensured there are great big signs telling doctors to wash their hands between patients, telling visitors to wash their hands before they enter sensitive units; and just to make sure, they have visibly placed hand sanitizers everywhere. That means, after touching all the other used paper towels in an effort to ensure it doesn’t drop on the floor with the toilet paper and other detritus that shall remain nameless, one can simply use the hand sanitizers. Never mind that soap and water has been proven to be more effective than hand sanitizers in ridding the flesh of bacteria and viruses and never mind that only soap and water removes actual physical contaminants, it’s the perception of being good little hygienists that counts.

The staff member pointed me to a less-used public bathroom; it only had paper towel strewn all over the floor. I must perfect Oprah’s no-hand method of opening the bathroom door for the next time I have to visit a hospital and use the facilities.

6 Comments so far

  1. alden (unregistered) on August 7th, 2007 @ 10:44 am

    Gross! I’ll be at North York Gen in a few weeks as my wife will give birth soon. I take a look around and report what I see.

  2. alden (unregistered) on August 7th, 2007 @ 10:45 am

    Gross! I’ll be at North York Gen in a few weeks as my wife will give birth soon. I take a look around and report what I see.

  3. talk talk talk (unregistered) on August 7th, 2007 @ 10:55 am

    I’d be interested in what you find. I wonder if the community hospitals are cleaner than the teaching ones?

  4. Rachel (unregistered) on August 13th, 2007 @ 1:21 am

    Sounds pretty interesting.Well Vitamin Shoppe adds to sound health indeed.

  5. Dmitri (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 4:42 am

    This is really gross,but nothing gross me out anymore. back in the days,I use to work in restaurant
    industry. I’ve seen some really crazy stuff. I remember,for a few years I was afraid to eat in restaurants. You’d think cooks would wash their hands after doing #2. In places where I worked…they wouldn’t

  6. talk talk talk (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 10:07 am


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