That's the message of the hand hygiene campaign being led by the Virgin Islands Medical Institute, Inc. They are pushing the habit of washing hands through hospital and community based education.
The lesson is simple – good hand hygiene is important in stopping the spread of infections.
The “Clean Hands Can Save Your Life” campaign also engages health-care workers to demonstrate their commitment to good hand hygiene practices by wearing buttons and appearing on posters with hand hygiene messages.
The goal of the campaign is to reduce Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) through provider and patient education.
Dr. Cora Christian, medical director of VIMI, says across the nation there is a problem with HAIs.
“Our hospital is relatively good about reducing the spread of infections,” Christian says. “But we want zero infections.”
VIMI started the process last August, collecting data to get a sense of the communities' knowledge about hand washing to prevent the spread of infection. Christian says they asked patients at Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital if they felt comfortable asking health care providers and visitors if they washed their hands.
Promotions for the campaign began at the Agricultural Fair to educate people on hand washing and how it prevents the spread of infections. They had hand sanitizing stations and posters displayed at the fair.
She says washing with soap and water is a simple, low-cost way to prevent the spread of infections.
“We know from national data it is cheaper to prevent infections than to treat infections with antibiotics,” Christian says.
Dr. Risa Nielsen of VIMI says they are highlighting the positive and good things happening with the campaign. Last week the staff in the dietary/nutrition department at JFL was recognized by VIMI for consistently and consciously making sure they wash frequently and wear a button to prove it.
“If you care about somebody wash your hands,” Christian says.
She added the campaign will go on for three years.
VIMI is a non-profit organization that works with all aspects of the health-care system in the Virgin Islands – hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, providers, physicians and consumers – to resolve problems, correct deficiencies, and improve the performance and quality of health care.
Christian says Medicaid and Medicare have specific national activities that VIMI follows. The Patient Safety: Reducing Hospital Acquired Infections Learning and Action Network is partnering with VIMI to spread the campaign.