Case Study

Himeji St. Mary's Enhance Hygienic Patient Care Whilst Improving Nurse Productivity

Posted: Client: Himeji St. Mary’s Hospital Country: Japan

As a leading medical establishment Himeji St. Mary’s Hospital provides top quality medical services and patient care. The hospital has 360 beds with a spacious and open layout, which is designed for the comfort of the patients. There are many specialised and qualified nurses working at the hospital, with a well-defined operational structure.

The hospital was founded by the religious order the Sisters of St. Francisco, and opened as St. Maria Clinic in 1950. In 1984, it was developed into a general hospital, expanding the diagnosis and treatment department. In 1992 ‘‘Maria Villa’’, the extended care facility for the aged, was set up as a leading medical establishment in the area providing both medical and welfare services.

In 2015, ‘‘Himeji Medical Simulations Centre Hime- Maria’’ was opened, with the latest training equipment. In the same ward, a medical fitness centre ‘‘Maria Plus’’ was set up, to promote the health of staff and residents in the area.


Before the Vernacare system was introduced, Himeji St. Mary’s Hospital had some concerns about staff hygiene standards and infection risk. They were looking for hygienic alternatives that would reduce staff workload as well as the stress of handling and managing human waste.

The hospital were using nappies and reusable toilet facilities (based in each individual room). Infection Control Nurses were worried about the risk and spread of contamination to staff and the environment due to splashing during cleaning and flushing of human waste into the toilets.

In addition, cleaning and sterilising containers added a huge work load for the staff. The ward staff had to spend almost 20-30 minutes every day cleaning and sterilising containers.


The hospital decided to trial the Vernacare System, comprising of a Vortex disposal unit and single-use containers such as bedpans, urinals and bowls.

The trial highlighted the nursing and staff benefits in terms of productivity, reduction of the risk of cross infection and patient independence and dignity.

The decision to introduce the system was partly made due to the low introduction cost. It did not require any pipe replacement or rewiring work. It came in a small body, with 100V power connectivity and was compatible with the existing piping system.

In addition, it eliminated the risk of remaining residues after hand-cleaning, but most importantly it has standarised the process. With hand washing everyone had their own way of doing it, however, now they have a consistent process which delivers consistent standards every time.

During the trial, the hospital analysed the data every day for a month, by counting the number of times and hours spent in human waste disposal. They concluded that work efficiency had been improved.


Mr. Yoshiki Imagawa, Chief Infection Control Nurse, admitted that the system has also strengthened their measures against the risk of cross-infection caused by person-to-equipment contact.

“It’s crucial to avoid these invisible risks before they occur, by strengthening cross-infection prevention” For the Director of Nursing Service Department, Ms Takako Yamanaka, consolidating and standarising the process was the most significant benefit of the introduction of the system.

While for the Head of Nursing, Ms Yasumi Muramae, staff and work flow efficiency and patient dignity have been important drivers for implementation of the system.

All agreed, ‘‘this is a system they cannot work without.’’

The team is now planning to implement the Vernacare system in the new ward currently under construction.