Hand Washing Campaign Aims to Engage Patients while Improving Care

It is the most effective thing you can do to keep yourself and your family from getting sick this season – and at Shore Health System, it is something all doctors, nurses and staff have pledged to do to assure patients get exceptional care every time they come to a Shore Health System facility. It is the simple act of washing your hands – and this 15-second act can prevent an infection or save someone’s life.

Shore Health System recently launched the public campaign “Ask Me If I Washed My Hands.” As part of the campaign, posters hanging at the Memorial Hospital at Easton, Dorchester General Hospital and facilities across the Mid-Shore region remind visitors and patients alike to ask their doctor or healthcare provider a very simple question, “Have you washed your hands?” Tags bearing the same reminder are clipped on all staff identification badges.

“We pick up all kinds of germs from the people and things we touch – yet a 15-second procedure can prevent an infection or save a life,” says Julie Bryan, BS, RN, Infection Prevention Coordinator for Shore Health System. “When we wash our hands, we help eliminate the chance of a patient getting a healthcare associated infection.”

“As healthcare providers, it is important to build a culture that ensures the highest standards of hand washing and infection control to ensure the safest care for all patients,” said Ramesh Kolli, MD, a hospitalist who practices at Memorial Hospital. “It is such a simple practice but hand washing prevents disease and promotes wellness throughout the community.”

Shore Health System’s system-wide “Target Zero” campaign – which was rolled out in 2009 – put in place multidisciplinary teams and processes to reduce the number of healthcare associated infections at all facilities. The system has reached its goal over and over again. Some examples include zero central line associated blood stream infections for over a year, zero ventilator associated pneumonia cases for over 20 months and zero catheter associated urinary tract infections for over two years.

“What we have seen with our Target Zero efforts are world class results that I would take to any medical institution in the world. The steps we’ve taken to reach the goal of zero infections have become the way we do things everyday, forever,” said Michael Tooke, MD, FACP, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Shore Health System. “By taking Target Zero public, we are now inviting our patients and their families to help us reach and maintain zero healthcare associated infections. If we empower them to ask us if we washed our hands, we also empower them to ask other important questions about their healthcare. All of these things are important in our efforts to assure that our patients get exceptional care every time they come to Shore Health System.”

In photo: The Shore Health System Senior Leadership Team pledge their commitment to the Target Zero initiative by signing a poster that will be on display at Memorial Hospital, Dorchester General Hospital and other facilities around the region. Pictured from left are Michael Silgen, Vice President, Strategic Planning and Business Development; Jerry Walsh, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer; Patti Willis, Senior Vice President, External Relations and Development; Michael Zimmerman, Vice President, Human Resources; Ken Kozel, President and CEO; Jonathan Cook, Vice President, Physician Services; Michael Tooke, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer; Walter Zajac, Senior Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer; and Christopher Parker, MSN, RN, Senior Vice President, Patient Care Services, and Chief Nursing Officer.