I started with Virox in March of 2003. Shortly after I started, I was introduced to someone who I would now call a dear friend. Paul Webber, who some of you may know as one of the founders of the Webber Training Teleclass program, took me under his wing. He introduced me to some of the greatest and most influential minds around the world in infection prevention, he helped build my love of infection prevention and the myriad of opportunities there are to educate, and he has spent more than a decade correcting my grammar any chance he gets!
You’ve likely guessed from the title, this story does not have a happy ending. It’s the story of Paul’s father-in-law and how he lost his life due to a HAI. Paul wrote about the unfortunate set of circumstances in his father-in-law’s obituary that I am sharing in full. It’s poignant. It’s heartfelt and I could not do it justice by trying to create an abridged version.
“On October 30, 2005 David Williamson Milne passed away at Kingston General Hospital after a battle with hospital-acquired infections. He was loved and is deeply missed by many.
David Milne was the kind of person that you got to know, and like, quickly. His friends were among society’s small and society’s great, and he treated each with equal respect and appreciation. His Scottish humour and laugh were infectious. Even in the last days he could make us laugh.
His family was the joy of his life and sustained him throughout. As the youngest of a large Manitoba farm family, he was his mother’s joy and primary recipient of her loving largess. He wedded his first love and childhood sweetheart, Catherine, who followed him from posting to posting, with one and then two children, Catherine Jr. and Jacqueline.
As a long-service pilot in the Canadian Armed Forces David Milne’s life was not without risk, but risk balanced in an equation with skill. His heart surgery was a risk, but it was balanced against the outstanding skill of Dr. Hamilton at Kingston General Hospital. The surgery was successful and Dave’s recovery was proceeding well, thanks to the care of KGH staff. Unfortunately, a series of hospital-acquired infections set back his progress and ultimately caused is premature passing.
Every year hospital-acquired infections cause or contribute to the death of more people than breast cancers, heart disease, and car accidents combined. Most of these infections are initiated by otherwise caring healthcare workers who forget or neglect to clean their hands. And for each of those who, like our friend David, succumb to one of these unnecessary infections there are many more who ache for their loss. These are not numbers on month-end reports. These are our fathers, our mothers, our children and our dear friends who are dying prematurely because of unclean hands. The little bit extra time that it takes for healthcare workers to wash or to use and alcohol sanitizer is pittance compared to the waste of so many productive, loved and loving lives.
In honour and memory of David Williamson Milne a donation will be made in his name to the Community and Hospital Infection Control Association of Canada. His family and extended group of friends openly urge those at Kingston General Hospital as well as healthcare workers everywhere to clean their hands before and after every patient contact. It is absolutely a matter of life and death.
Farewell to a dear husband, father and friend.”
Thank you Paul and Jacquie for letting me share your story. There is nothing additional that I can add. I agree completely that cleaning, be it hands or environmental surfaces or medical devices, saves lives.