UMF Corporation applauds microbiologist’s TEDx message of need to increase awareness of ‘Everyday Heroes’

UMF Corporation is commending Rodney E. Rohde, PhD, on his recent TEDx Talk that emphasizes the need to increase awareness of the critical role played by Medical Laboratory Technicians and Hygiene Specialists – the “everyday heroes” ­– in the battle against antibiotic resistant superbug infections.

“This is a message that needs to heeded by anyone who is focused on patient safety,” said George Clarke, CEO of UMF Corporation, a developer of infection prevention products, systems and training for all healthcare environments.

“And it’s a message that needs to spread beyond the healthcare world to the public at large: We need to increase awareness of all of the unheralded professions that are so critical in the battle against antibiotic resistant superbugs.”

At a TEDx Texas State University Conference held Nov. 5, 2016, Dr. Rohde, a clinical microbiologist and professor at Texas State University, discussed the reality of superbugs in healthcare systems and the community at large, and the important role of two “behind-the-scenes” professions – Hygiene Specialists and Medical Laboratory Professionals, in combatting these superbugs. The theme of the TEDx event was “Everyday Heroes.”

“My mission and passion is to overcome” the lack of knowledge of the unheralded professions so critical in the battle against antibiotic resistant superbugs – through communication, awareness and education,” Dr. Rohde told the TEDx audience. “Sadly,” he said, “these two professions are dwindling in numbers. In a sense they’re dwindling because we don’t know about them. They’re behind the scenes. They’re misunderstood. They’re lacking in identification and understanding. And, sometimes, a lack of respect.”

Everyday Heroes

In his TEDx Talk, Dr. Rohde described the important tasks of his everyday heroes.

“Medical Laboratory Professionals provide critical diagnostic testing for antibiotic resistant superbug infections,” he said. “Medical Laboratory Professionals provide up to 75 percent of the data that physicians use to positively and correctly identify what’s going on (with the patient).”           

In explaining the job of the Hygiene Specialist, Dr. Rohde singled out Karren Keitt, a member of the Environmental Services (ES) team at Regional Medical Center (RMC) in Orangeburg, SC. Keitt is the 2011 recipient of the annual Hygiene Specialist® Excellence award sponsored by UMF Corporation. “Karren Keitt and Hygiene Specialists like her are the ‘secret weapon’ against antibiotic resistant superbugs,” he said. “The Hygiene Specialist knows that ‘clean’ does not necessarily mean microbially clean – and it certainly doesn’t mean sterile.”

His TEDx talk is not the first time Dr. Rhode has spoken in support of his “everyday heroes.”

In a 2014 article, “The Hidden Profession That Saves Lives,” Dr. Rohde described Medical Laboratory Science as “one of the most under-recognized professions.” In another 2014 article, “A Secret Weapon for Preventing HAIs,” he wrote that ES comprises the “first-line-of-defense, specialists whose training has included learning best practices for effective infection prevention, on-going in-service education and effective hygiene management in patient rooms and all other areas of the hospital.”

UMF Corporation’s Clarke also noted that Dr. Rohde said these professionals are key participants in a multimodal (at 11:00 min.) intervention program, the only type of program likely to reduce these types of infections and their impact on the patient environment.

“We commend and support Dr. Rohde in his cause,” he said.

About UMF Corporation

Innovators and specialists in environmental hygiene, UMF Corporation delivers advanced, patented antimicrobial technology with industry-leading PerfectCLEAN® products, education, training, motivation and support. The company, headquartered in the Chicago area, is the only U.S. company that designs, engineers and manufactures high-performance fibers and accessories to help its customers meet tough new challenges in public health and safety. Visit

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Ken Swoyer