Hospital ‘Dares to Be Bare' by implementing leading-edge hand hygiene best practices
(Newmarket, Ontario – October 24, 2012) Earlier today, and just in time for flu season when the risk of infection is at an all-time high, Southlake Regional Health Centre took a bold and innovative step to better protect its patients, visitors, staff, and communities against infectious illnesses like the flu.
At an educational event for hospital staff and with the support of Southlake's Infection Prevention and Control Department, President and CEO Dr. Dave Williams officially launched the Hospital's new Bare Below the Elbows campaign, a best practice directed at improving the effectiveness of hand hygiene.
According to Dr. Williams, going ‘bare' is not just a practice, but instead should be considered a total shift in organizational culture that involves members of the healthcare team and other Southlake staff remembering to always roll up their sleeves, take off any watches, bracelets or rings, and remove any artificial nails and polish while on patient care units.
“When we go bare below the elbows, and are extra vigilant with our regular hand hygiene procedures, we will minimize any chance that we will spread illness or infection to those who rely on us when they're at their most vulnerable, our patients,” he said during his remarks. “As a high-reliability organization, we're embracing this change because we're committed to putting patient safety and the quality of care we provide at the forefront of everything we do.”
For Brigette Boaretto, Manager of Infection Prevention and Control at Southlake, the Bare Below the Elbows campaign is just one way the Hospital will be ramping up its efforts to help stop the spread of infectious diseases in the near future.
“While our Bare Below the Elbows campaign is intended to support and remind those of us who work, practice medicine, and volunteer at Southlake, we're not stopping there,” she said. “Over the course of the next few months, we'll be directing additional efforts on reminding our patients, visitors, and communities about the important role they can play in the fight against spreading infections.”
Over the past year, through other innovative approaches and techniques, Southlake has become a provincial leader in hand hygiene compliance and has increased its organizational rate from approximately 69 to 92 per cent.
“The increase in compliance means the culture shift is already underway,” said Dr. Williams. “I'm not surprised. At Southlake, we're known in the community, province, and across the country for being leaders, innovators, problem-solvers, thinkers, and most importantly, doers. We learn quickly and seek ways to do things better and more creatively, and we believe opportunities for improvement are simply stepping stones to helping us achieve our ultimate goal of safer, higher-quality care for our patients.”
Quick facts on hand hygiene:
Hand hygiene, when done correctly, is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.
Good hand hygiene technique is easy to learn and can significantly reduce the spread of infectious diseases among both children and adults.
Germs can live for a long time on hard surfaces like desks, doorknobs, and tables. Most people get sick when they touch something that is contaminated with germs and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth. The easiest way to reduce your chance of getting sick is to wash your hands often with regular soap and water and avoid touching your face.
Alcohol rubs/gels/rinses are excellent hand antiseptics, provided they contain more than 60 per cent alcohol. They are widely used in healthcare settings, or in situations where running water is not available. Healthcare organizations use high concentrations of alcohol in the products used.
Alcohol-based hand rubs should only be used if no visible dirt is present on the hands.
For more tips on hand washing and hand hygiene, visit the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's website, or the Public Health Agency of Canada's website.