FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Connecticut Department of Public Health
September 22, 2008 Contact: William Gerrish
Hartford – The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) celebrates “Clean Hands Week,” September 21-27, 2008, reminding people of the importance of hand washing at home and in the health care setting.
“Hand washing, using soap and water or an alcohol-based gel, is an important step in reducing the spread of infections in hospitals, nursing homes, and the community,” stated DPH Commissioner J. Robert Galvin, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A. “Hand washing is the single most important act a person can do to prevent getting sick and making others sick.”
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 5,000 people die each year from food-borne illness. It is estimated that between 79,000 and 96,000 people die from hospital infections each year. According to health officials, a direct link to many of these deaths is poor hand washing.
“People do not wash their hands as often as they think they do,” stated Dr. Galvin. “Recent surveys have found that while over 9 out of 10 people claim they always wash up after using the rest room, only about 3 out of 4 actually do.”
In June, DPH launched a public education campaign designed to increase Connecticut residents’ knowledge about healthcare-associated infections and the importance of infection control practices, especially hand washing. The campaign, “Making Connecticut Safer: Two Hands at a Time” was developed through a partnership between hospitals, nursing homes, patient advocates, and DPH. Campaign materials were developed and distributed to hospitals and nursing homes across the state to help organizations increase hand washing among patients, family members, and visitors, and set expectations concerning hand washing among health care workers.
The CDC estimates that 1.7 million patients in acute care hospitals throughout the United States acquire infections that are directly related to their hospitalizations. It has been estimated that these infections contribute to more than 90,000 deaths and a cost of more than four billion dollars annually in the United States.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the state’s leader in public health policy and advocacy with a mission to protect and promote the health and safety of the people of our state. To contact the department, please visit its website at www.ct.gov/dph or call (860) 509-7270.