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Why Corrections Administrators Need to Know the Five C’s
By Robert Kravitz, President AlturaSolutions
Published: 09/18/2017

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What we are going to be discussing here is crucial. Corrections administrators are not only charged with housing those convicted of a crime, but while in their care, protecting their health. This is a serious issue because if one inmate becomes sick, it can spread throughout the center and impact everyone, staff as well, surprisingly quickly. And with more and more infections becoming antibiotic resistant, preventing the spread of diseases is all the more critical.

This is why correctional administrators must become familiar with what is referred to as the “Five C’s.” The Five C’s tell us how disease and infections are most often spread and include the following:
  • Contact – this refers to skin-to-skin contact; we have mucous membranes on our skin that can secrete germs causing chicken pox, cold sores, and the big concern, MRSA. Just shaking hands can start the spread of a skin infection.
  • Contaminated surfaces - touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your mouth, eyes, or nose is a sure way to get sick; this could include touching weight lifting equipment, shared towels, shared clothes, railings, etc. And by the way, this could also include touching contaminated handcuffs
  • Crowding (overcrowding)
  • Cuts and scrapes
  • Cleanliness, or lack thereof
Now that we know the Five C’s, applying them to everyday situations in a correctional facility looks something like this:
  • Inmates, in one way or another, are always in contact with each other.
  • They are always touching surfaces, many of them contaminated.
  • Prison crowding is a nationwide problem
  • Cuts and scrapes are an everyday occurrence in correctional facilities, and if the inmate is infected, cuts and scrapes can spread germs and bacteria on to surfaces
  • Proper and effective cleaning, as necessary as it is, can be “hit and miss” in some correctional locations.
So what can correctional administrators due to address the many challenges the Five C’s create?

Probably the most important is to encourage inmates to go to the infirmary if they are sick or if they have a skin infection, cuts, or scrapes. Most skin infections can be treated and covered so that germs are not spread to surfaces or other inmates. As to illness, until it has been determined exactly what is the cause of the illness, the prisoner should be removed from the general population.

The next step that can put the brakes on the Five C’s is handwashing. Inmates and staff must wash their hands frequently. While it is not a substitute for hand washing, installing hand Sanitizers throughout the facility can also slow the spread of infection. *

There’s not much we can do about crowding, or shall we say overcrowding, but call your congressman. Good luck!

So that leaves cleaning, and that is where we can have a tremendous impact.

Inmate Power

On the outside, the biggest cost of professional cleaning is labor. If you ever want to get the attention of a cleaning contractor, just tell her there are ways to improve worker productivity and get cleaning work done faster.

That’s not an issue on the inside where we have “inmate power,” and can assign any number of inmates cleaning jobs. But what should grab the attention of any correctional administrator, now that we are aware of the Five C’s, is to tell her there are ways to get the cleaning done more effectively. This is a key word and used here means actually removing germs and bacteria from all types of surfaces.

Because we have ample inmate power, cleaning is still performed in very traditional manners using sprayers, cleaning cloths, buckets, and mops in many correctional locations. Over the past decade, however, we have learned that all of these tools can spread disease.

The cloth gets soiled and spreads contaminants from one surface to another. Mops should be viewed as five-foot long paint brushes. As they get soiled, they are painting the floor with contaminants.

So what are our options? Take a look at how restrooms, in particular, are being cleaned on the outside. Many cleaning contractors are turning away from traditional cleaning methods and adopting what, Dr. Jay Glasel, founder of Global Scientific Consulting, LLC., refers to as “high flow fluid extraction,” or more commonly known as no-touch cleaning.

No surfaces are touched in the cleaning process. According to Matt Morrison, communications manager for Kaivac, a company that makes this type of cleaning system, the machine applies cleaning solution to all surfaces. The same areas are then pressure rinsed. A built-in vacuum system vacuums up all moisture as the final step.

“[And] while it is not recommended,” adds Morrison, “especially in a correctional facility, studies have shown [that] these systems are highly effective at removing pathogens even without cleaning solutions.” So there we have it. Correctional administrators are always dealing with challenges and looking for solutions. When it comes to the health of those we are charged with caring for, fortunately, there are steps we can take. I encourage you to follow some of the suggestions here and look outside the box, searching for new measures and cleaning innovations that can be taken to keep correctional locations healthy.

*Hand Sanitizers typically kill germs and bacteria on the surface of the hand. Our skin is layered to protect us. But germs and bacteria can get lodged in these layers which typically can only be removed with handwashing.

Editors Note: Corrections.com author, Robert Kravitz, is president of AlturaSolutions Communications and is a writer for the professional cleaning, building, healthcare, and educational industries. He may be reached at info@alturasolutions.com


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