Giving our Patients a Hand with Proper Hygiene

“We now know that one of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce the spread of illness is to wash your hands,” says Jill Andrea, Spooner Health’s Director of Quality. “At Spooner, we take hand hygiene seriously, which protects our patients and contributes to our very low incidence of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs).”

Hand Hygiene Initiatives

Jill oversees the hand hygiene initiatives at SHS. “Employees attend mandatory education sessions annually where hand hygiene is discussed,” she says. “We also provide monthly education on the importance of hand hygiene for anyone who has direct patient contact.”

Other initiatives include:

  • Hand sanitizer stations in every patient’s room and at the nurses’ desks.
  • Posters stressing the importance of handwashing throughout the facility.
  • A “don’t touch” rule, which states that no one should touch a patient before washing their hands, each and every time.
  • Patient education, which includes a bottle of hand sanitizer and a brochure called, “Don’t Be Afraid to Ask” provided upon admission. “We tell patients not to be afraid to ask healthcare providers if they’ve washed their hands before coming into their rooms or touching them,” Jill says. “We encourage patients to wash their hands before leaving their rooms for a walk and visitors to wash up before and after visiting a patient.”

Simple Solutions, Major Results

“Compliance with handwashing guidelines make a significant difference in a healthcare setting,” Jill says. “Overall, we may have only two or three hospital-acquired infections per year. It may seem excessive to expect people to wash their hands 50 to 60 times a day, but our first concern is for patient safety.”

Are you washing your hands correctly?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should wash your hands in warm, soapy water for about 20 seconds (about the time it takes to hum “Happy Birthday” twice), rinse and dry. If soap and water are unavailable, hand sanitizers are a good option only if hands are not visibly soiled.

When you should wash your hands:

  • Before, during and after preparing food and before eating.
  • Before and after caring for or visiting someone who is sick.
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound.
  • Before inserting contact lenses.
  • After using the toilet.
  • After changing diapers or tending to someone who has used the toilet.
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • After touching an animal or animal waste.
  • After taking out the garbage.