Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Seal Shield Awarded “Excellence in Performance Award for 2016” from CME

Seal Shield was proud to join the CME team as a vendor in 2015, providing them with new product lines which allowed them to talk to a new subset of customers within their existing customer base (including environmental services and nursing), as well as customers completely new to them (including IT and infection control).

Offering medical screen protectors, medical keyboards, and medical mice, Seal Shield has helped CME accomplish solution selling as Claflin Medical Equipment joined forces with Hospital Associates in California and RSI Equipment in New York, forming CME to complete their vision of a nationwide network of “one-stop-shop” healthcare equipment purchasing solution, backed by strong partners, such as Massachusetts Eye and Ear.

One of the biggest endeavors we are embarking on together is centered on mobility solutions, spanning from screen protectors for medical monitors of all sizes, as well as mobility management.  Seal Shield easily fits into an organization’s mobility plan, offering screen protectors that stand up to healthcare’s toughest cleaners (including bleach) which allow personnel the ability to disinfect screens and devices without interrupting workflow. Furthermore, Seal Shield offers the ability to manage a facility’s fleet of mobility, from RFID point to charging and syncing.  Products like the NovaBeam allows organizations to adopt a “bring your own device” policy, where devices of both practitioners and visitors can be quickly and effectively disinfected before entering patient rooms or wards, even down to visitors wanting to take pictures of newborns! 

Seal Shield’s screen protectors also pair well with CME’s refurbishment solutions.  Abrasive cleaners are a necessity in healthcare for disinfection purposes, but they can wreak havoc on patient monitors and screens, resulting in a loss on these large technological investments.  CME and Seal Shield are the most effective solution, allowing you to protect your tech investments at the time of purchase with the application of screen protectors, or by applying screen protectors during the refurbishment process to prevent future damages and down time.

Earlier this year, CME polled members of the company worldwide in customer service, executive operations, warehousing, and sales to identify the top 5 vendors who share their goal of “The Sky’s the Limit”.  These vendors included Welch Allyn, Midmark, MAC Medical, Howard Medical, and Seal Shield.  Each vendor in the top 5 was then judged on products, performance, service, and support to determine who contributed most to CME’s success and growth over the year.  At the CME Annual Conference, Seal Shield was identified as the top vendor in all of these categories and was awarded the “Excellence in Performance for 2016” award. 

Seal Shield couldn’t be more excited with having such a great partnership with CME and the solutions we are able to provide to create a safer and fiscally responsible environment around technology in healthcare, are extremely honored to receive this award, and look forward to a very bright future in continuing work with CME!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Flu and You – 6 Things You Need to Know

It’s that time of year again – the sneezing, sniffling, coughing, aching, feverish, no-good virus that typically circulates widely in the U.S. each year from late fall through early spring (peaking in December through March), causing thousands of deaths (listed as the 8th cause of death by the CDC), with the elderly, young children, pregnant women, and those with chronic medical conditions being most at risk.

What do you need to know about this unwelcome virus and how can you prevent it?  Seal Shield offers the following 6 tips to educate yourself and keep your family healthy this flu season.

Influenza Virus


1) What Is Influenza?

The CDC describes the flu as “a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.” Influenza typically spreads by droplets released in the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. You can also contract the flu by touching a surface contaminated with the virus and subsequently touching your eyes, nose, or mouth allowing the virus passage into your body.

Once exposed to the virus, symptoms typically emerge within 1-4 days, with 2 days being the average. Most people will recover from the virus within a few days to 2 weeks. You are able to pass the flu on to someone else before you even know that you are sick – most healthy adults can infect someone 1 day before they show symptoms, as well as up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. Young children and those with weakened immune symptoms may even be able to infect others for an extended amount of time!

Signs and symptoms of the flu include feeling some or all of the following:
  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (very tired)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)
*However, it’s important to note that not everyone with the flu has a fever.

Complications of the flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. As noted earlier, those most at risk for serious infection or death are the elderly, young children, pregnant women, and those with chronic medical conditions.

2) Is It The Flu Or a Cold?

It’s crucial to note that both the flu and colds are caused by viruses, not bacteria, therefore antibiotics are not effective and you should avoid taking them in order to do your part in preventing antibiotic resistance (Read more about antimicrobial resistance in our blog series)

Follow this helpful chart from the CDC on determining if what you’re feeling is indeed the flu or a cold, in order to decide when to see your physician.




3) How and Why Does it Change?

Like nearly everything else in our world, influenza viruses are constantly changing and evolving. For instance, some years (like this year) you’ll notice that only certain types of vaccines are recommended (more on that later) and other prevention factors besides the standards will come into play. Why does this happen?

First let’s start with the different flu types:
  • Influenza Type A*
    • Capable of infecting animals and humans, with human infections being more common. Wild birds commonly act as hosts for this virus. Type A is constantly evolving, includes multiple subtypes, and is typically the one responsible for large flu epidemics.
  • Influenza Type B*
    • Found only in humans, Type B may cause a less severe reaction than Type A, but on occasion can still be very harmful. Type B is not classified into subtypes and does not cause epidemics.
  • Influenza Type C
    • Found in humans as well, Type C is generally milder than both A and B, typically does not make people very ill, and does not cause epidemics.
  • Influenza Type D
    • Typically infects cattle and is not known to infect or cause illness in humans.
*Influenza Type A and Type B are the ones responsible during seasonal outbreaks.


Now, back to how the flu virus changes. Influenza viruses are able to change in one of two different ways:
  • Antigenic Drift
    • Small changes in the genes of virus Type A and Type B that happen continually over time as the virus replicates. These changes accumulate over time and result in new viruses that the body’s immune system may not be able to recognize and fight off with existing antibodies. This is the reason why people can get the flu more than once, and also why the composition of the flu vaccine must be reviewed and updated as needed on a yearly basis.
  • Antigenic Shift
    • An abrupt, major change in the Influenza A virus, resulting in new proteins within the virus that infect humans. These shifts emerge from an animal population and are so different from the human subtype that most people do not have immunity to the new virus. A good example of this type of mutation is the H1N1 virus pandemic from 2009. 



4) How Do You Treat It?

When you are suffering from Influenza, the best thing you can do is stay at home and rest until your fever has been gone for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medicine). This not only helps you to recover, but it helps prevent spreading the virus to others. While sick, avoid close contact with others (even within your home), cover your mouth and nose with tissue when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands often (especially after touching your face), clean and disinfect surfaces and objects, and drink plenty of water and other clear liquids to prevent dehydration. If you are caring for someone else who has the flu – wash your hands often and avoid touching your face as not to infect yourself.

While antibiotics are not recommended for the flu, as it is a virus and not caused by bacteria, antivirals are available by prescription from your physician and come in many forms such as pills, liquids, and inhaled powder. Antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and reduce the amount of time you are sick. They can especially be helpful for those considered high risk, to prevent further complications. In order to be most effective, antivirals must be taken early after symptoms appear – studies show that they work best when taken within 2 days of feeling sick, but be sure to follow your physician’s instructions on whether they are right for you and when to take them.



5) The Flu Shot – Is It For Me?

Most likely the answer is a big YES. The flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older, each season. It’s particularly important for those considered high risk for serious complications (the elderly, young children, pregnant women, and those with chronic medical conditions) to be vaccinated in order to prevent contracting the virus. If you work in healthcare, or care for those considered high risk, it’s also important for you to be vaccinated. It may not be considered pleasant, but it has many benefits, including reducing illness, doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, and missed time at work or school.

Different flu vaccines are approved for different groups of people, as well as the season itself. For instance, this year the CDC only recommends the injectable flu shot this year, new vaccines will be on the market, and the recommendations for those with egg allergies have changed. About 2 weeks after getting vaccinated, your body will develop antibodies that provide protection against flu viruses – sweet deal!

Here’s some additional guidelines on who shouldn’t receive the vaccine:
  • Children under 6 months of age
  • People with severe, life-threatening allergies to the flu vaccine or any of it’s ingredients
  • The following people should talk to their doctor before getting the flu vaccine:
    • People who have an allergy to eggs or other vaccine ingredients
    • People who have ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)
    • People who are feeling ill

And finally, you can use this vaccine locator to find places to get the flu shot near you!



6) How Else Can I Prevent It?

We’ve all heard the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and when it comes to the flu, it’s the perfect “medicine”! Besides getting vaccinated, consider doing all of the following to protect yourself:
  • Stay away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes, etc. (politely of course!)
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu, and wash your hands after touching communal-type objects.
  • Speaking of washing your hands – this is the number one way to prevent not just the flu, but all infections! So wash, wash, wash them! Hand-washing is most effective when it’s done properly, however, so read our blog post on the standards of how and when to wash your hands.

Friday, November 11, 2016

A Night Dedicated to Fighting C. diff – Seal Shield Attends the C Diff Foundation’s Inaugural Tampa Bay Community Raising C. diff Awareness Event



What is C. diff?

Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is a bacterium that can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon and is typically spread through hand contact, as well as contaminated surfaces (as C. diff can live for long periods of time on surfaces).  C. diff is known as one of the leading hospital acquired infections, affecting around 500,000 people in the U.S. each year (and as many as 30,000 fatalities annually), with the elderly, immunosuppressed, those undergoing antibiotic therapy, and those hospitalized or in long term care facilities being the most at risk.  However, the risk of acquiring a C. diff infection (or CDI) has increased in the community and has been found in outpatient settings.

C. diff and Antibiotic Usage

Antibiotics cause a disruption in the normal flora of the intestines – destroying “good germs” that protect against infection for several months, which creates prime conditions for bacteria like C. diff to flourish.  The leading antibiotics known to disrupt intestinal flora are (though not limited to) Ampicillin, Amoxicillin, Cephalosporin, Clindamycin, and the broad spectrum antibiotics.  In November 2012, the CDC began sharing a public announcement regarding antibiotic use, stating that colds and many ear and sinus infections are caused by viruses, not bacteria, and taking antibiotics to treat a virus can make those drugs less effective when you need them most.  Its estimated that as many as one third of antibiotic prescriptions in the U.S. are unnecessary, and increased awareness and limitations on antibiotic usage can help reduce new CDI cases, as well as other antibiotic resistant infections.

Seal Shield and the C Diff Foundation

Seal Shield is pleased to support the C Diff Foundation, as we are all in this fight of preventing infections together.  Antimicrobial Resistance, the ability of a microorganism to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics) from working against it is a very real problem in modern day society.  The use and misuse of antibiotics over the past years has increased the number and types of resistant organisms and consequently, many infectious diseases may one day become uncontrollable (For more information on antimicrobial resistance, see our blog series). 

The C Diff Foundation was founded in 2012 by Nancy Caralla, a nurse with over 25 years of experience and multiple first- and second-hand experiences with CDIs.

With November being “Raising C. diff Awareness Month” and the CDC’s “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week” (11/14-20th), the C Diff Foundation’s Inaugural Tampa Bay Community Casual Dinner Dance was the perfect time to catch up with our friend Nancy Caralla support her in her efforts to end C. diff!

The Sunset Casual Dinner Dance

The 1st Annual Casual Dinner Dance was held on Friday, November 4th, 2016 at the Spartan Manor in New Port Richey, FL and served as a time for physicians, survivors, supporters, and companies like Seal Shield to get together, get informed, and make progress on ending this harmful infection while having some fun!

After a warm welcome from Nancy herself, Dr. Ernest DiGiovanni, DO, who specializes in Gastroenterology with practices at both Trinity and Hudson Florida gave us a full background of the “Who, What, and Where” of C. diff – both refreshing the knowledge of those in the industry, and educating those that aren’t.  Dr. Elbert Barnes, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Medical Center of Trinity stepped up to cover the topic of the increase of C. diff within the community and how to prevent it, citing that 75% of the C. diff cases seen at his practice come from the community. His prevention tips (outside of regular, proper hand-washing which is the #1 factor in infection prevention) included avoiding inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions, not taking antibiotics prescribed to others, avoiding overuse of acid suppressors (such as Prilosec), staying current on your vaccines (including the flu vaccine), and if you notice C. diff symptoms (which include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and fatigue) – seeing your doctor as soon as possible. He also stated that research has shown that probiotics can be helpful for prevention.

Our Marketing Communications Manager, Karen Cyr, was able to catch up with Nancy Caralla later on in the evening to learn even more about her story and personal commitment to this cause:

What prompted your passion to get involved with preventing hospital acquired infections, C. diff in particular?

“Healthcare professionals have an instilled passion for medical science and patient safety.  We incorporate infection prevention on a daily basis to promote good health and wellness.  With that being said, I have been a Nurse for over 25 years and have cared for many patients with multiple diagnosis who have also acquired additional illnesses during an inpatient stay.  In 2004 I witnessed my father, who was being treated for Sepsis (Septic Shock) in the ICU develop one HAI after another.  He passed away in the ICU after 45 days of care with multiple infections including the original diagnosis of Sepsis; C. difficile, VRE, Bacterial Pneumonia, MRSA, and more.

In 2008 I was working at a community hospital in a transitional care unit -- post-op patients receiving rehabilitation preparing to discharge to home.  At that time 2 colleagues and I were diagnosed with C. difficile infections, however; it took over 3 months to receive a definitive diagnosis.  We were diagnosed and treated for gastritis, intestinal viruses, food poisoning, and even IBS.  However, the symptoms did not stop and only worsened as time went on.  My colleagues were treated with one round of oral medication and recovered fairly quickly.  I, on the other hand, remained ill and the illness progressed.  During the year of 2008 into 2009 I was assessed and treated by 14 physicians specializing in gastroenterology.  The treatments were sporadically successful and the recurrent CDIs were ongoing.  

In 2009 I was transferred to a major teaching university hospital over 300 miles east of my residency and assessed and treated by one more GI physician who utilized a medication that was being clinically trialed to treat C. difficile infections.  In 10 days I was improving and the positive results without recurrent CDI remained.  It took 2 years to recover from this extremely exhausting extended infection.

In 2011 I finally felt well enough to return to Nursing and on the third month of employment those familiar symptoms were creeping back.  I thought, "No, it can't be!"  A trip to the PCP and a CDI test and yes - positive PCR test for an entirely new C. diff infection.  Let's just say that this started in 2011 and there were 9 recurrences and in October of 2012 was the last negative test and a promise to organize and develop a mission through a non-profit Foundation to educate and advocate for C. difficile infection prevention, treatments, and environmental safety worldwide. That is how the C Diff Foundation came to fruition on November 1st, 2012.”

What do you feel is the biggest challenge in infection prevention?

“Communication, and consistency -- to truly have collaboration between disciplines and across the continuum of care.  It takes every aspect - from technology, therapy, and practice to eradicate all healthcare-associated infections. 

Another challenge that exists is, "Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it isn't there -- germs."   From patients to professionals we cannot stress it enough to "wash your hands."  Hand-washing remains the number one infection prevention worldwide.”

What is the best way for someone to get involved with your organization?

If you are in the healthcare field:
“Send us an e-mail to info@cdifffoundation.org or call us at (919) 201-1512 and request to join fellow healthcare volunteers within the C Diff Foundation.  Join fellow healthcare professionals in C. diff. prevention/support/environmental safety presentations, educating and listening to patients, families, and clinicians from villages to cities worldwide.”

If you are not in the healthcare field:
“Send us an e-mail to info@cdifffoundation.org or call us at (919) 201-1512 and request to join the C Diff Foundation Volunteer Patient Advocate Program.  Share the printed literature and raise awareness in C. diff. prevention, treatments, support, and environmental safety to drive down the rates of C. diff. infections worldwide.”

You can also find the C Diff Foundation on Facebook and Twitter.

How Seal Shield Products Can Help Fight C.diff

Seal Shield has effectively positioned itself as the infection control specialist, serving as the leading developer of medical keyboards and medical mice that are both waterproof and antimicrobial, as well as medical screen protectors with Antimicrobial Product Protection for surgical monitors, touch screens, computers and tablets that can withstand medical-grade disinfectants.  Seal Shield also offers a line of UV Disinfection and Management products, designed to keep up with the growing needs of mobile device disinfection within healthcare as facilities adopt higher use of electronic health record technology and mobile devices.

Seal Shield is passionately committed to ending hospital acquired infections and fighting antibiotic resistance, as evidenced through our mission – Prevent Infections and Save Lives – our product line, and each member of our team’s passion behind their work.