Good hand hygiene is critical in preventing the spread of influenza. All employees should perform hand hygiene before patient contact; after patient contact; after contact with blood, body fluids, or contaminated surfaces (even if gloves are worn); before invasive procedures; and after removing gloves. “All of our hospitals have alcohol-based gel in the hallways and in the patient rooms to make it easy for staff, patients and visitors to practice good hand hygiene,” says Sheila Fletcher, Infection Prevention and Control Clinical Specialist in Kindred’s Hospital Division.

Most Kindred facilities use “Secret Shoppers” to make sure employees are following hand hygiene protocols. “Secret Shoppers are volunteers who monitor physician and staff hand hygiene practices,” says Fletcher. “They are encouraged to step in and speak up if they see someone who fails to perform hand hygiene or is not doing it appropriately.”

Every year during flu season and National Infection Control Week, infection preventionists at all of Kindred’s facilities are given a packet of resources to help educate physicians and staff members about hand hygiene and preventing the spread of bacteria. “The packet might include posters, flyers, buttons and other resources,” says Fletcher. “This year, it also included a YouTube video.” The packet is sent out in October, at the height of the flu season.

Kindred also has a flu vaccination program for staff. “Vaccines are paid for by Kindred and administered at the facility level,” Fletcher says. “The shots are not required, but they are encouraged. We want to make sure we’re doing the right thing for our staff and patients.”

Patients and families should also be educated about influenza prevention. “Patients and families should be taught about respiratory etiquette and hand washing,” Fletcher says. “A lot of our facilities put signs up in the hallways that say something like, ‘If you’re sick, please consider not visiting.’ Same goes for employees. If you’re sick, you should stay home.”