143 A Collaborative of Hospital Epidemiologists and the Community to Increase Hand Hygiene

Saturday, April 2, 2011
Trinity Ballroom (Hilton Anatole)
Carl Abraham, MD , Sackler School of Medicine, Jonesboro, AR
Background: Studies of hand washing with alcohol-based disinfectants in both the healthcare and home settings show a decrease in infection transmission. There has been a significant increase in community-onset skin and skin structure infections and colonization with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) throughout the United States. The prevalence of community-dwelling persons infected and/or colonized with MRSA in Northeast Arkansas is especially high. Infection control practitioners (ICPs) are equipped to educate the public. This education may result in benefits for both community-dwelling and hospitalized persons. This report describes a hospital-initiated, community-based intervention to increase hand hygiene education.

Objective: To assess the receptiveness of schools and community businesses and organizations to hand hygiene education.

Methods: The Department of Epidemiology of a tertiary care facility in Northeast Arkansas collaborated with local businesses, religious institutions, schools and civic groups in Jonesboro, Arkansas to educate the population (approximately 58,500) regarding the benefits of hand hygiene. The collaborative, which involved the Jonesboro Mayor’s Office, Office of the Governor of Arkansas, and Chamber of Commerce, was announced to television and print media on September 21, 2009. Children and adults attended free educational programs that emphasized the importance of proper hand hygiene. Children attended age-appropriate programs at school. Educational displays and alcohol-based disinfectant hand wipes (ADHW, Sani-Hands ALC®, Sani- Hands® for Kids®) were made available.

Results: From September, 2009 to January 2010, >10,500 persons attended a collaborative program. Of Jonesboro’s 3 school districts, all schools opted to participate, allowing ~ 9,900 students and teachers to attend a program. Twenty-nine programs were presented at businesses, places of worship and civic groups, with a total attendance of 1037 adults. A total of 158 stands with hand hygiene educational displays and ADHW were placed in schools, businesses, malls, restaurants, long-term care facilities, places of worship and government buildings.

Conclusions: Schools, places of worship, government agencies, civic groups and businesses were open to hand hygiene education when offered by a hospital epidemiology department that included an infectious diseases physician and ICPs. This collaborative reached a large number of persons (>10% of the local population). Educational displays and hand wipe dispensers were well-received in a multitude of settings. This collaborative showed that the hospital Department of Epidemiology and infection control practitioners are important sources of education and resources for community-based interventions. Further study is needed to assess the effectiveness of such a collaborative on colonization and infection rates.