St. Jo’s lightens the mood

St. Joseph’s General Hospital decided to celebrate with light-hearted events this year to impart serious messages.

A SERIOUS MESSAGE was delivered at St. Joseph's Hospital in a most lighthearted way.

A SERIOUS MESSAGE was delivered at St. Joseph's Hospital in a most lighthearted way.

Each year a week is set aside to focus attention on what infection prevention and control programs in Canada are doing to prevent hospital-acquired infections and the spread of microorganisms in health-care environments.

St. Joseph’s General Hospital decided to celebrate with light-hearted events this year to impart serious messages in an easily absorbed and enjoyable addition to busy days.

Hospital officials recognized that much of what infection prevention and control programs have developed in the last number of years has become well known and integrated by staff throughout the organization.

Health-care safety has focused more definitively on hand hygiene in recent years as our understanding of its key role in reducing hospital acquired infections has deepened along with the emergence of antibiotic-resistance organisms and new diseases.

New products that can be located closer to the site of patient care have become available that make it possible to sanitize hands more frequently and more quickly than was previously the standard. The role of jewelry and long sleeves in inhibiting best hygiene practices have been understood through research and experience, and a new professional look of bare arms and hands for all health caregivers has emerged.

The Provincial Infection Control Organization decided to hold a contest this year, seeking popular songs that have been adapted into infection control themes. Out of an attempt to write songs for the contest, the idea of a performance piece grew.

The idea to stage a flashmob was the concept of infection prevention and control practitioner Toby Krell. She and her musician-partner Danny Zanbilowicz adapted a few Beatles songs.

Danny asked for Help from the Cumberland Hotel jam musicians, who in good spirit met at Studio Live where James Matilla generously recorded and engineered the music.

Willing singers from the hospital staff then added the vocals during a second fun evening at the Studio. Lindsay Sterk, artistic director for Pantuso Dance Company, volunteered his choreography skills and in an amazing under one-hour tutorial and practice created a group of skilled uninhibited performers from a rather serious under-expressive group of hospital staff.

The group consisted of courageous individuals from a variety of hospital departments who were willing to make the time and jump in to what was unknown territory for many. The cast even included president and CEO Jane Murphy.

The event took place in the hospital cafeteria to the surprise of staff and visitors alike who were having lunch Oct. 19. The normally sedate dining room was suddenly filled with loud and lively music, and people jumping up, and ‘putting on the moves’ with “microphones’ of hand sanitizer bottles and rock-star energy.

Kate Nesbit, office co-ordinator of The Views was having lunch during the performance said with a laugh, “The infection control team made a big impact, and it was a lot of fun. I got to dance with (senior finance administrator) Eric Macdonald, and that was a highlight for me!”

Krell, who admits to serious stage fright earlier in the day, said, “I am thrilled with how the event was filled with such good spirit and staff camaraderie in addition to program information. For all its humour, a commitment was being stated and reinforced that our organizational culture is to the best safety standards and hospital practices possible.”

— St. Joseph’s General Hospital

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