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CPSI Share                                                  
3/26/2013 6:00 PM

​​​If you walk down the halls of the Cardiac Science units at the Alberta Health Services Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute and CK Hui Heart Centre in Edmonton, you can’t help but notice the reminders to clean your hands.  Alberta Health Services have challenged healthcare facilities in each of their five zones across the province to come up with a plan for 100 per cent hand hygiene.

The Mazankowski and CK Hui sites had the advantage of a head start on developing their plan.  Last year, they joined the Safer Healthcare Now! Stop Infections Now Collaborative (SINC). Their hand hygiene compliance rates were at an all-time low – about 26 per cent and they wanted to help influence change.  As a result, in the last year, compliance rates have at times reached 76 per cent at the Mazankowski site and 80 per cent at the CK Hui site. 

“We have been able to integrate many of the ideas and our work from the Collaborative to our zone meetings and we are thrilled that the work we started is now spreading throughout the Edmonton zone,” says Darlene Bartkowski, Clinical Nurse Educator at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute. “Some of the things we are doing are not revolutionary, but it is the sharing that makes the difference.  You realize that you are not the only one with that problem.”

The AHS SINC team produced buttons for staff that say, “You can ask me to clean my hands”, in an effort to get patients and families more involved in their care. They invited all staff from the Edmonton zone to participate in a flash mob and music video to promote effective hand hygiene.  The AHS Edmonton zone is using hand hygiene observation as a way to improve things, rather than a way to punish people for not doing something.  And, they have a formed a working group to look at cleaning of equipment. 

“It can be difficult starting a process like this and initially we did not have as much frontline representation as we would have liked to have,” says TobieGuinez, Clinical Nurse Educator. “Once the frontline staff got involved, we started to see change.  Frontline staff are now more diligent about cleaning their hands, and they are asking questions about the observations and getting more involved in them.”

“For the Collaborative, we formed a multidisciplinary group and that really changed the team dynamic,” says Inger Eakin, Project Manager.  “There is a lot more engagement.  In fact, one physician responded to a question in a recent engagement survey that being part of this Collaborative was the first time he felt engaged and part of the team.”

The AHS multidisciplinary team includes representatives from Medical staff (physicians), nurses, educators, environmental services, diagnostic imaging, laboratory, respiratory services, food services, protective services, a service attendant and more.  

The Edmonton zone has set targets in education and hand hygiene compliance and meets bi-weekly to talk about the various methods to reach their goals, and to discuss issues and problems.  Overall zone compliance has gone up and the Edmonton zone leads in provincial hand hygiene compliance.

The Stop Infections Now Collaborative was led by experts from the University Health Network (IGNITE ) in conjunction with other behavioural change consultants from Canada and the U.S. To learn more about the Stop Infections Now Collaborative, visit  For information on effective hand hygiene, visit