I‘ve always been one of those people who liked school. (Crazy, I know.) I enjoyed taking notes, going to lectures and learning something new every day. That‘s why I loved the keynote address by Dr. Michael Phillips, hospital epidemiologist at NYU Medical Center, this afternoon. His topic, “MRSA: Super Bug or Just Hype,” was delivered just like my college classes on public health, and I loved it. (I haven‘t been in a college class since 2003, so it hit the spot.)
Although MRSA has been in the news a lot lately, Dr. Phillips calmed many operators‘ fears during his address. Although hospital-based MRSA can be difficult and expensive to treat, community-based MRSA (that which could but has rarely spread in a fitness facility) can be treated quickly with cheap antibiotics. MRSA is usually transmitted from person to person through an open cut or scratch, so members and staff should be encouraged to clean and cover their wounds.
“Don‘t forget the basics,” Dr. Phillips told the crowd. “It‘s just what Mom said. Cover up cuts and scrapes. Clean your hands a lot and take a shower after working out.”
Dr. Phillips recommended that clubs offer sanitizing hand gel to clients and staff and provide wipes for members to clean the equipment. Wipes may not eliminate risks entirely, but they help, he said. Also, clubs should perform good regular cleaning, focusing on key contact areas, such as doorknobs, lockers, etc.
Overall, though, risk is low in health clubs, he said.
“You have to keep things in perspective,” Dr. Phillips said. “It‘s all about having good basics in check. Outbreaks are unusual.”