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Hand gel, plenty of it, secret to Thames success

L-R Karen Atkins RN, Anne-Marie Lockett RN, Jan Adams

L-R Karen Atkins RN, Anne-Marie Lockett RN, Jan Adams

Woe betide the person entering Thames Hospital’s Chemotherapy Unit who does not gel their hands.

They will have to deal with four nurses who have made hand hygiene in the unit an absolute must – so much so that the compliance rate there regularly reaches 100 per cent.

Registered nurse Anne-Marie Lockett says the secret to their success is to have hand gel everywhere in the unit, accessible and easy to use.

“Plus we are always constantly auditing and monitoring each other. We remind each other and now it’s become second nature, we don’t even have to think about that,” she said.

The Chemotherapy Unit and Waikato Hospital’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit are the inaugural recipients of a “Sustaining excellence in patient safety award” from Waikato District Health Board’s Board of Clinical Governance.

The awards will be presented by chief medical advisor Dr Tom Watson at the board’s February 18 meeting.

In advance of that, Midland district health boards’ regional quality lead Jan Adams recently visited the Thames unit to see what the secret of their success is.

“You are unsung heroes in this DHB,” she told them because they are not part of the national hand hygiene audit programme.

However Waikato DHB runs a similar programme for the rural hospitals, the only difference being that the results do not get submitted nationally.

“Gold auditors” also audit Thames chemotherapy department and the data put into the same national hand hygiene database for the generation of local reports.

The department is audited twice a year as per local auditing schedule.

“It is easy to see how you do so well,” said Mrs Adams. “Hand gel is everywhere. This is an excellent result and it makes a difference to your patients.”

Registered nurse Karen Atkins says the hand gel is in stands on the walls, on the trolleys and constantly in everyone’s faces.

“With our patients, we’re always talking about their risk of infection. It naturally comes as part of our routine.”

If a nurse has a cold or a sniffle, they stay home. “We don’t take the risk. Because there are four of us in the team, we don’t want to let anyone down,” she said.

“We make a joke about it if we see someone not doing it (washing their hands), we say “hand hygiene”,” says Anne-Marie.

“The hand hygiene auditing did bring awareness to us of how vulnerable the patients are and we need to be mindful of that every day.”

ENDS

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