Five Physicians Recognized for Outstanding Leadership in Hand Hygiene

Proventix Systems, Inc. of Birmingham, Ala. announces it has awarded the Lathem Physician Leadership Award in Hand Hygiene to five physicians who demonstrate a commitment to hand hygiene excellence and leadership in their facilities.

The 2013 recipients are:

- Dr. Belinda Ostrowsky, infectious disease attending and director of antibiotic stewardship at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y.

- Dr. Sam Windham, trauma surgery and co-director of the SICU Critical Care Team at UAB Hospital in Birmingham, Ala.

- Dr. Bruce R. Williams, hospitalist at Medical Center Enterprise in Enterprise, Ala.

- Dr. William L. Sutker, medical director of infection prevention and control at Baylor Health Care System in Dallas

- Dr. James Yates, internal/geriatric medicine at Regional Medical Center Jacksonville in Jacksonville, Ala.

Lathem Award nominations were made by colleagues who observe the nominee's leadership and quality practices on a daily basis.

"Dr. Ostrowsky is an active hands on participant in the Infection Control Program at our facility and will use any opportunity to educate all levels of the healthcare team on the importance of hand washing before and after contact with patients or the environment," says Grace Robinson, RN, infection control practitioner at Montefiore Medical Center.

"Wash your hands frequently," advises Ostrowsky. "There are many things you can do to keep your patients safe, but start simple and wash your hands!"

"Dr. Windham is a 'poster child' for hand hygiene," says Cheri Plasters, RN of UAB Hospital. "He is one of the SICU unit directors and is a huge advocate for hand hygiene and infection prevention. Because of the excellent leadership of Dr. Windham in [the] SICU, our unit has a culture that expects everyone to perform hand hygiene prior to entry into the ICU patient rooms and before leaving the ICU patient rooms."

"The very first thing you notice about [Dr. Williams] is that he washes his hands, foams in and out of rooms, and he wears gloves," says Belinda Arredondo, nurse manager at Medical Center Enterprise. "It is great to see firsthand his demonstration of hand hygiene compliance."

"Dr. Sutker's focused leadership, including routine hand hygiene rounding on patient units and personal discussions with non-compliant employees and physicians, was instrumental in reaching and maintaining [our] goal," says Judy Prescott, director of infection prevention and control at Baylor Health Care System.

"[Dr. Yates] is very involved in decreasing the rate of hospital acquired infections in our community," says Christina Mullins, director of med/surg at Regional Medical Center Jacksonville. "He has truly been 'leading by example', and he is an inspiration to all of us to keep striving for excellence."

Commenting on the award, Yates says, "I hope that this award will help encourage everyone to incorporate proper hand hygiene, for the protection of our patients and ourselves, into their regular routine."

The award is named in honor of Dr. Mickey Lathem, a physician and parent of a child who contracted an HAI during surgery. After his personal experience, Lathem began advocating hand hygiene and promoting a heightened awareness among all healthcare providers.

"I'm thrilled and honored to be the namesake for this initiative," says Lathem.  "Research supports the understanding that physician-led quality improvement efforts significantly reduce adverse outcomes and help sustain compliance among caregivers. Hand hygiene is such a simple thing. As physicians, we can be leaders."