Posters in the Hall of Haunted Hands glowed with frightening facts about the consequences of infectious diseases.
To stress the importance of hand hygiene to staff, the infection prevention team at Somerset Medical Center, Somerville, N.J., recently presented its second annual Hall of Haunted Hands event.
The Halloween-themed event initially was created to mark the end of International Infection Prevention Week in October each year. In 2012, it was rescheduled to Nov. 29 because of Superstorm Sandy.
“The Hall of Haunted Hands is a fun way for staff to learn about the spread of infectious diseases,” said Pat Lafaro, RN, BS, CIC, director of infection prevention. “It is always interesting to hear their comments on how they learned something new that they were not aware of. We have already started to plan for some additions for next year.”
The haunted hall was created by draping a conference room in black cloth and replacing existing light bulbs with black lights. The decor created a Halloween atmosphere while providing an interactive learning opportunity.
Posters were created with black light-sensitive paint. The posters glowed with important facts on diseases while spooky music played in the room. Nursing staff and physicians learned about the history of infectious diseases and how these diseases have shaped the worlds population.
“The room is decorated in a way that people retain the information,” said Maureen Schneider, RN, PhD (c), MSN, MBA, NEA-BC, CPHQ, FACHE, CNO and senior vice president, clinical program development.
The halls posters included tragic facts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the following diseases:
The Black Death (Plague), 1347-1350: European mortality was 25 million and one out of every three people died. Entire villages faced starvation with many thinking it was the end of the world.
Pandemic Influenza, 1918: Global mortality was 50 million, including 675,000 Americans, which was five times the number of U.S. soldiers killed in World War I. Entire cities of children were orphaned.
Smallpox: In the 20th century, 400 million deaths occurred. The disease was eliminated in 1977 thanks to vaccination efforts.
Polio: The disease, which invades the brain and spinal cord causing paralysis, crippled 350,000 in the U.S. between 1940 and 1950. It was eradicated from the U.S. in 1979 by vaccination efforts.
Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever: From 1976-2011, there were 2,272 cases and 1,530 deaths (a 68% death rate). The onset of illness is abrupt and can lead to internal and external bleeding.
Pertussis: There are 30 million to 50 million cases and 300,000 deaths annually, and the coughing fits it creates can last as long as 10 weeks or more. Tdap vaccine is the best defense.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus: This often severe infection emerged in healthcare in the 1970s.
Clostridium difficile: Commonly affecting older adults, this bacterium causes 14,000 U.S. deaths annually. Unnecessary antibiotics increase the risk for infection, and spores can survive up to five months in the environment.
Foodborne-related illnesses: These cause 76 million cases of diarrhea, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 U.S. deaths annually.
SARS (2003): A reported 8,098 cases in 29 countries led to 916 deaths.
Hospital-Associated Infection: There are about 1.7 million cases each year in the U.S. and 90,000 deaths. Additionally, the CDC estimates approximately one of every 20 hospitalized patients will contract a hospital-associated infection and encourages proper hand hygiene as critical to the prevention of HAIs, which contribute to the death of nearly 90,000 patients per year and $6.8 billion in medical expenses annually.
The positive feedback from Somersets staff about the program has made the haunted hall an annual event that will continue as a format for providing infection prevention information, according to the infection prevention team. Since the events inception in 2011, more than 425 staff members have attended.
“What a clever way to get the word out and improve buy in from the staff about hand hygiene,” Karen Abbruzzese, RN, said. •
Sharon Raab, RN, is the infection preventionist and Crystal Hobbs, RN, is the nurse educator for information technology at Somerset Medical Center.