Spectrum Health Launches Hand Washing Campaign

Helen DeVos Children's Hospital Targets Campaign to Parents and Children

Spectrum Health announced a public education campaign about hand washing today to build understanding that clean hands can help reduce the incidence of colds and flu this winter.

Research by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms a direct link between the spread of disease and poor hand hygiene. During a recent national campaign, the CDC called hand washing the single most important step individuals can take to avoid illness and prevent the spread of disease.

“The bottom line is that hand washing makes a difference when it comes to staying well and stopping the spread of germs,” said David L. Dull, MD, vice president, quality, Spectrum Health Grand Rapids. “Our infection control team is constantly promoting hand washing among our staff as well as educating visitors who come to our hospitals. However, we also believe this is one of the most important messages we can share with the community. Hand washing is easy and makes all of us healthier.”

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is participating in the effort, focusing on educating parents and children in the community about the importance of frequent hand washing.

“Hand washing is simple, inexpensive and the best way for kids to protect themselves from illness,” said Karen Dahl, MD, division chief, infectious disease, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. “This campaign is aimed at parents and children to remind them to wash their hands often.”

The Spectrum Health campaign ( is using CDC research and guidelines in its messages to the community. Colorful plastic mirror clings and bookmarks with hand washing tips are available at all Spectrum Health urgent care centers, primary care offices, and emergency departments, as well as Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital outpatient clinics and Greater Grand Rapids pediatrician offices.

From the CDC:

It is best to wash your hands with soap and clean running water for 20 seconds. However, if soap and clean water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean your hands. Alcohol-based hand rubs significantly reduce the number of germs on skin and are fast-acting.

When washing hands with soap and water:

  • Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Use warm water if it is available.
  • Rub hands together to make lather and scrub all surfaces.
  • Continue rubbing hands for 15 to 20 seconds. Need a timer? Imagine singing “Happy Birthday” twice to a friend.
  • Rinse hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door when leaving the rest room.
  • Always use soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and clean water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean your hands. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers significantly reduce the number of germs on skin and are fast acting.
    • Apply sanitizer to the palm of one hand.
    • Rub hands together.
    • Rub the sanitizer over all surfaces of hands and fingers until hands are dry.

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is West Michigan’s largest children’s hospital, serving children and families throughout a 37-county region. A teaching hospital, it includes more than 150 pediatric specialty physicians uniquely skilled in providing medical and surgical care to children in more than 40 pediatric specialties. The hospital cares for more than 7,600 inpatients and 190,000 outpatients annually. Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is committed to caring for children and families with compassion, excellence and innovation.  Visit for more information.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan that offers a full continuum of care through its seven hospitals, more than 140 service sites and Priority Health, a health plan with nearly 500,000 members. Spectrum Health’s 14,000 employees, 1,500 medical staff members and 2,000 volunteers are committed to delivering the highest quality care to those in medical need.  The organization provided $111.1 million in community benefit during its 2008 fiscal year. As a system, Spectrum Health has earned more than 100 awards during the past 10 years. More news about Spectrum Health is available at