Success Story: Healthcare Association Collaboration Aims to Reduce HAIs Through Small Actions

By Peter Holbrook
Published January 15, 2014
Infection Control Today
 
Healthcare professionals around the country are rallying to reduce infection rates by promoting sustained behaviors, fostering a shared sense of purpose and empowering individuals to make a difference at every level of care. The new initiative, called OneTogether: The Power of Small Actions, aims to reduce the incidence of healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) by increasing awareness of how the small, individual actions of every healthcare worker can have a profound influence on patient health and safety. While no one can discount the benefits of modern science, some of the most significant advances in human health have as much to do with human behavior as they do with technology. And OneTogether seeks to harness the power of people to further reduce HAIs.
 
Susan Morabit, infection preventionist at WellStar Kennestone Regional Medical Center in Marietta, Ga., put the OneTogether principles to work at her facility soon after learning about them at last year’s 3M Infection Prevention Leadership Summit. “The whole concept is so simple and yet so powerful,” she says. “It’s basically about recognizing that even small actions can make a huge difference to patient well-being.”
 
Caught in the Act
 
Morabit adopted one of the first tactics devised for the OneTogether program: a set of wallet-sized thank you cards tailored for specific job functions, from sterile processing to housekeeping. These cards recognize the important contributions that employees make every day to help prevent HAIs. Messages express appreciation for following policies and procedures, adhering to dress codes, using hand sanitizer and even for reminding practitioners, patients and family members to use infection prevention best practices.
 
“I like to hand out the cards the moment I catch someone in the act of doing the right thing, because it has so much more impact,” she explains. “It only takes a few seconds to use hand sanitizer, and only a few seconds to thank someone for doing it. But those few seconds can really help that person feel they’re making difference in our patients’ lives.”
 
OneTogether was subtitled “The Power of Small Actions” for a very big reason. Jan Lienau, infection preventionist II at Greer Memorial Hospital in Greer, S.C., explains: “Something as small as taking the time to clean a corrugated bedrail can prevent a patient from contracting a surgical site infection, if the previous bed occupant had MRSA, for example. That extra minute can really change the course of recovery for the next patient.”

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