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The Catalyst

8West's hand hygiene tree shows team spirit, commitment

By Mikie Hayes
Public Relations

A colorful reminder that proper infection control is critical to patient outcomes, the hand hygiene Christmas tree greets everyone who approaches the nurse’s station on 8West in the Medical University Hospital. The cheerful creation, made from inflated examination gloves and construction paper garland, invites smiles from passersby and staff alike.

The 8West night crew gets credit for the clever idea.

Staff on 8West pose with their creative hand hygiene Christmas tree. photo by Mikie Hayes, Public Relations

“Spontaneity and creativity were behind this project,” said Kim Curnell–Pean, R.N., nurse manager of 8West. “Karen Fry, who leads shared governance, was thinking of innovative ways to get staff involved and engaged. Something fun like the tree eliminates monotony and also encapsulates the importance of focusing on outcomes in a fun and relevant way.”

In the pursuit of excellence in patient care, MUSC introduced measurable goals aimed at providing a foundation to improve service and operations. Curnell–Pean is passionate about meeting MUSC’s organizational goal of 90 percent compliance in hand hygiene, and the entire unit strives to achieve or exceed that goal every month.

"Infection control is a critical element in ensuring the safety of our patients and hand hygiene is the key. This initiative falls under MUHA Organizational Pillar goals,” Curnell–Pean said.

Quality, one of the five pillars of MUSC Excellence, focuses on achieving the highest standards of quality care in all domains and calls for zero harm to patients through the care process. Hand hygiene is an important indicator related to the quality and safety of the patient care that MUSC provides and is considered the most important step staff can take to prevent infections.

“Across the board, we know that proper hand hygiene decreases the risk of our patients developing infections, thereby reducing the length of a patient stay related to a subsequent acquired infection and ultimately decreasing morbidity rates,” said Curnell–Pean.

According to The Joint Commission, studies show continuing education is necessary to inform and remind health care workers of the indications for hand hygiene. At MUSC, to ensure proper habits are followed, inpatient units are subject to audits by Infection Prevention and Control. Secret shoppers observe staff to ensure they are taking proper precautions.

“We are all on our p’s and q’s in terms of compliance,” Curnell–Penn said. “That includes anyone who steps foot on this unit: physicians, occupational therapists, physical therapists, transporters, environmental services, dietary, techs… it doesn’t matter.”

Friendly competition among hospital units adds an element of fun to the hand hygiene program. On a quarterly basis, prizes are awarded to the unit with the highest compliance scores. Silver, gold and platinum winners receive various prizes, including cash for the department to host a unit wide celebratory meal or to purchase scrub tops; banners to proudly display in the unit; an Excellence trophy to the platinum winners; and campuswide recognition.

With October’s score of 92, Curnell–Penn and her team are satisfied, but remain vigilant. Everyone on the unit takes responsibility for making the grade.
“We focus on real-time education and coaching. If anyone is about to enter into a patient’s room without cleaning their hands, everyone on staff is empowered to remind them to do so,” said Curnell–Pean. “It’s all about our patients. We want to decrease the risk of infection and ensure that is the focal point at all times. If someone is careless about hand-washing, it can be detrimental to a patient’s health; therefore everyone has to be accountable.”

Everyone is part of the team on 8West. Daina Williams with Environmental Services loves to share the good work being done. She said, “We are awesome up here and our patients love us. Everyone loves this floor. We’re always up to something good or nice.”

Williams has earned many fans on the floor and around campus due to her charming personality and can-do attitude. Dick Smith, general manager of Environmental Services, said, “Daina is sensational — truly a great person.”

The team is especially proud that 8West has the highest year–to–date Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems scores in the hospital, representing a joint effort between Environmental Services and clinical staff. According to Smith, the HCAHPS initiative measures patients' perspectives on their care via a survey that is sent to them after they’ve been discharged.

When compliance goals are met, everyone wins. MUSC leadership recognizes and rewards units with high performance scores.

December 6, 2013

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