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Oct-06-2009 23:17printcomments

Officials Stress Washing Hands to Avoid Flu

The Cold Season is here, hand hygiene is paramount to staying healthy, experts say.

Washing hands and avoiding flus

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Flu prevention and hand hygiene go hand in hand – literally. Cold and flu germs count on us to pass them along to others, causing outbreaks of fever, achiness, sniffles, sore throats and coughing fits that can render a person helpless for days or weeks at a time.

This fall, Providence Health & Services urges you to be an ungracious host to cold and flu germs with one simple action: clean your hands.

On Oct. 1, Providence launched a state-wide campaign to educate employees, patients, visitors and volunteers about the importance of clean hands. Consistent hand washing is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of cold and flu germs, including the H1N1 virus.

If your hands are visibly dirty, use soap and water, lather up and scrub thoroughly, including wrists, between fingers and under nails. If hands are not visibly dirty, the use of alcohol-based gels can prevent the spread of germs.

“Clean hands will keep all of us healthier,” said Glenn Rodriguez, M.D., chief medical director for Providence Portland Service Area. “At Providence, we are committed to keeping germs from spreading; this means cleaning our hands and doing it right.”

The Providence campaign includes adding 1,000 new hand sanitizer gel stations in Providence facilities over the next few weeks. They will be easily accessible to employees and visitors – near elevators, outside patient rooms, in lobbies, by chapels and cafeterias. Staff are encouraging and expecting patients, visitors and families to ask caregivers if they have clean hands before every patient encounter.

According to Dr. Rodriguez, “If someone asks you if you cleaned your hands, you should thank them for caring and for asking.”

Providence isn’t stopping there. Signs in the hospital hallways and patient meal trays encourage hand cleanliness. Information cards and fliers at admitting desks double as hand washing reminders, and an employee video and mandatory online health education class have been created for staff members.

Even hospital executives are stepping up help relay this important message by participating in group gel-spritzing sprees during the lunch hour and at large employee gatherings such as department meetings.

The power is in your hands to prevent colds and flu this season simply by making sure your hands are clean.

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