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Board declares war on Influenza

12 April 2018

The first salvo in the Townsville Hospital and Health Service’s war on influenza has been fired today with a complete $80,000 overhaul of The Townsville Hospital’s hand hygiene campaign.

An army of staff have installed new hand sanitiser equipment and consistent signage throughout The Townsville Hospital.

Board Chair Tony Mooney said in 2018 the Townsville HHS was pulling out all stops to ensure there is no repeat of last year’s horror flu season.

“This year we are orchestrating a full-on assault against Influenza to keep our community and our patients safe,” Mr Mooney said.

“The Board has approved additional resources to bolster our response to Influenza, including funding for the refreshed hand-hygiene campaign.

“Our local response will support the state-wide Influenza campaign which will be rolled out in the coming weeks.”

A discussion paper from retired Townsville business owner Ted Winterbottom, which was presented to the Board, was pivotal to the new campaign.

Mr Winterbottom sits on the Townsville HHS’s quality and safety committee as a community partner and felt there was a need to standardise hand washing facilities and refreshed signage across The Townsville Hospital.

“There was a time last year that I was visiting the hospital regularly and I took it upon myself to do an assessment on the use and availability of hand sanitisers across the hospital,” he said.

“What I found was there was a lack of consistency across the hospital for where signage and dispensers were placed and signed.

“I felt I could contribute by writing a paper recommending the need for a consistent and standardised approach to hand hygiene at The Townsville Hospital.”

Townsville Public Health Unit director Dr Steven Donohue said hand hygiene sat alongside immunisation as a critical front-line defence against Influenza.

Dr Donohue said across the Townsville HHS in 2017 there were 2883 laboratory confirmed notifications of Influenza, almost double the numbers from 2016 (1528).

“People who are already unwell are those most at risk of being seriously impacted by Influenza,” he said.

“Everyday hundreds of people come in and out of The Townsville Hospital and I can’t understate the importance of those people practicing good hand hygiene.

“The Influenza virus is just one nasty virus that can sit on a surface for hours which is why it is vitally important that before visiting patients and after leaving wards people wash their hands thoroughly.”

Mr Mooney said over the coming weeks the Townsville HHS had a series of announcements planned about this year’s Influenza response.

“I’d really ask the community to get behind this push by making sure they practice good hand hygiene and by making sure they get their Influenza vaccination,” he said.

This year, the Department of Health is advising people to get their annual influenza vaccination in May. The best protection against Influenza is provided in the three to four months after vaccination.

Last updated: 14 August 2018