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Royal Alex cleans up with a Guinness world record

February 23, 2016

EDMONTON — The Guinness World Records has declared the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) the new world-record holder for most participants in a hand-sanitizing relay.

Last October, in recognition of Global Handwashing Day, 815 hospital staff, physicians, volunteers and visitors lined up to pass hand sanitizer from one person to the next as they cleaned their hands with alcohol-based hand rub, smashing the previous record of 300 participants.

“Our teams take pride in this achievement,” says co-facility medical director Dr. Curtis Johnston. “It was exciting to be a part of this unique opportunity and represent our site and all of Alberta Health Services (AHS) in this new Guinness world record. The relay brought our teams together, made it fun and reminded everyone of the importance of clean hands.”

The hospital supplied Guinness with detailed evidence of the world-record attempt. The relay was videotaped from three locations throughout the three-and-a-half hours; the number of participants was triple-checked; two impartial witnesses and five impartial stewards oversaw the event, and photos were taken to show the scale and planning of the event.

“The RAH’s atrium felt like a party during the relay,” says the 815th and final participant, Marilyn Wacko, RAH project consultant. “The whole place was buzzing -- we had RAH staff, physicians, patients and colleagues from across the zone coming in to help us beat the old record.”

More than 11,500 staff and physicians participated in Global Handwashing Day relays and events at AHS sites across the province.

The Royal Alexandra Hospital was the only site to attempt the world record.

Hand hygiene is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infections and communicable diseases.

“Consistent and proper hand hygiene is vital to our patients’ safety and it is always good to be reminded of the importance of having clean hands,” says Dr. Johnston.

“Our patients deserve and should expect 100 per cent clean hands with every encounter, every time. That is our goal.”

In November 2014, dedicated hand hygiene staff was hired in all five AHS zones. This team performs hand-hygiene reviews, supports new initiatives and provides continuous feedback to staff and physicians helping improve hand hygiene performance.

Newly released data shows hand-hygiene rates for AHS staff continues to improve and now sits at 80.3 per cent – the highest level achieved in the organization to date.

This represents a 58 per cent improvement in hand-hygiene compliance since AHS began doing provincewide hand-hygiene reviews in 2011.

The latest AHS hand-hygiene review collected 87,574 observations in 121 facilities across Alberta from October to December of last year.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Shelly Willsey
AHS Communications
780-394-0905