Healthcare pros in a HUFF about hand hygiene

Your local hospital has a sanitary sense of humour.

The Rouge Valley Health System decided to compete with the Toronto International Film Festival this year by launching its own film festival, this one focusing entirely on hand hygiene.

HUFF’s teaser compilation of all submitted films

The Hands Up Film Festival (HUFF), on until Sept. 26, is part of a hand hygiene campaign aimed at getting staff across Scarborough hospitals to a 100 per cent hand-washing compliance rate.

“We thought, ‘Isn’t TIFF happening in the fall?’ ” director of infection prevention and control Paula Ragguinti recalled. “That’s where HUFF came to be.”

Healthcare professionals were invited to make films demonstrating the importance of washing and sanitizing hands, which would be screened at the festival, which launched the same day as TIFF.

Ragguinti said she didn’t expect many people to take notice but was pleasantly surprised by the 10 submissions from teams of doctors.

“It was a red carpet event with an actual red carpet,” she said with a laugh.

Submissions included: a take on a popular Old Spice television ad; a film featuring a Purell sachet in place of a condom, as a couple learns about hand hygiene in the back of a car; and a nod to pop-culture called Clean Your Hands Like Jagger, after the hit Maroon 5 song “Moves Like Jagger”.

“We thought this was one way to take a serious message and turn it into a fun, lighthearted event at the same time,” Ragguinti said. “There are statistics that show that over 220,000 patients acquire an infection just as a result of being in a hospital.”

In addition to the impact of better hygiene, increased hand-washing rates translate into monetary savings.

“When you don’t wash your hands, there’s a lot of impact on isolation units,” said Jayshree Somani, an infection and control practitioner. “Those isolation beds cost a lot of money.”