NIAGARA, Ontario: They are known as “champions” and their role is to promote hand hygiene and infection prevention and control practices in the hospital.
“This is another new strategy Niagara Health System (NHS) has introduced to encourage everyone to use good hand hygiene and follow infection prevention and control practices to reduce the spread of infection,” says Vice President Patient Services Frank Demizio.
Almost 50 champions, all of whom are hospital staff, received training in all aspects of hand hygiene and infection prevention and control practices in late March. This included reviewing best practices for hand hygiene, when and how to wear personal protective equipment, and how to safely transport patients between departments. The training sessions were provided by NHS Infection Control Practitioners who will support and guide the champions in this initiative.
The champions serve as role models and provide guidance to other hospital healthcare providers and support staff and to patients and visitors, ensuring policies and procedures are followed and utilizing all of the resources and educational materials that are available to them.
“We have made a lot of gains with our hand hygiene and infection prevention and control practices in the last few years,” says Bonnie Sipos, Administrative Director of Diagnostics, Laboratory and Infection Control. “Our volunteer champions will play a key role in helping to sustain these efforts as well as take compliance to the next level through ongoing education and awareness. We hope to recruit additional champions to take on this new role so we can have champions in every department and/or unit across our seven sites.”
Niagara Health System has seen a 60 per cent drop in outbreaks over the last two years as a result of improved hand hygiene and adherence to infection prevention and control guidelines.
“Good hand hygiene takes a conscious effort and rates tend to fluctuate,” says Frank. “By constantly monitoring our rates, we can identify the first sign of a downward trend and push harder to educate and raise awareness. This is how the champions program came to be.”