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Preventing Infections with WIPES

blank Hopkins' WIPES campaign

There is nothing haphazard about Hopkins' WIPES campaign. Before the ubiquitous acronym appeared on posters, stickers and computer screens, the notion of how to get the message out about preventing hospital infections was researched, analyzed and tested.

"We knew two things," says Hanan Aboumatar, education and research associate for the Center for Innovation in Quality Patient Care who was put in charge of the project. "The message had to be clear to every employee at every level, plus patients and family members. And we also knew we had to target education to particular disciplines." For example, she continues, Environmental Services employees wanted to know how often to change the mop water; nurses were more concerned about isolation policies.

Because the Center for Communication Programs at the Bloomberg School of Public Health had already conducted national and international communication campaigns, Aboumatar asked them to design and develop the WIPES campaign. They also organized multiple focus groups consisting of a mix of employees to test the various approaches. "Pretty quickly, it became clear that people responded to this message."

The acronym is short for:

W Wash/clean hands
I Identify and isolate early
P Precautions use (use gowns, gloves and masks)
E Environment kept clean
S Share the commitment, raise your hand

Aboumatar and a band of more than 100 volunteers then set about to deliver the message. They distributed 5,000 posters, 10,000 stickers (for bathroom mirrors, stalls and hand sanitizer dispensers) and handed out thousands of pocket cards and hand wipes. The message also appeared on digital messaging screens and computer screens at public work stations. On the campaign's intranet site (insidehopkinsmedicine.org/wipes), there are four versions of a Jeopardy game to address the needs of specific departments like Environmental Services and the Outpatient Department.

While reactions to the campaign from staff and patients alike have been positive, the proof of its effectiveness will be determined by data, which will be monitored monthly. "We'll be looking at the impact on infection rates," says Aboumatar, "and the impact on clinical providers' adherence to hand hygiene guidelines."

—MEM

 

 

Johns Hopkins Medicine

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