Crouse Health Online: Wellness is just a click away.
Share Share
  |  Connect with Us: 
large
med
small
Text Size
 

Health News



How One Company Fought the Flu

How One Company Fought the Flu

12/30/10

THURSDAY, Dec. 29 (HealthDay News) -- As fears of a flu epidemic that could cause severe illness or death gripped much of the United States the past two winters, George Boue grappled with more fear than just his own.

As vice president of human resources for a Fort Lauderdale commercial real estate firm, Boue had to devise a plan to reassure and protect not only the company's employees but also the tenants of the 45 office buildings and shopping centers it managed.

Hand-washing and hygiene became one of the key tactics embraced by the Stiles Corp. safety committee, Boue said.

"The one thing you can control more than anything else is washing your hands," Boue said. "People realized, 'This is one way I can have control over this situation.' Even though there's the possibility of getting it from someone next to you, airborne, you have more control over whether you get H1N1 if you keep your hands clean."

The company put up posters in common areas, urging people to wash their hands. Employees received e-mails containing U.S. National Institutes of Health guidelines on how to properly wash their hands.

As tension mounted, Stiles Corp. went further. It placed pump bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitizer in all its conference rooms. Dispensers also were placed in key spots near elevators and in lobbies. "You put your hand underneath and you get a squirt of the foamy stuff," Boue said.

Stiles Corp. started its H1N1 response by focusing just on employees but extended its program to tenants when they began to ask what management was doing to prevent the spread of flu in its buildings.

The educational messages and the ready access to hand sanitizer played a key role in preventing the spread of influenza through the company, Boue said. Only one other strategy -- urging people to stay home when they were sick -- proved potentially more effective than hand-washing.

"Did we really prevent something from happening? In the company here, I think we had two H1N1 cases that were family members, not the employees themselves," Boue said. "I would speculate that yes, hand cleanliness contributed to it, but I think our policy that if you were sick you should stay home probably helped more."

The H1N1 scare may have created unintended public health benefits that continue to this day, he said.

"I think the whole H1N1 scare had a mindset change with many people to disinfect their hands more than they did in the past," Boue said, noting that human resources colleagues at other companies report similar observations. "Before H1N1, when flu season came along, we sent out communications about health and safety, but H1N1 really scared people into behavioral change. I see all the time in the lobby people as they get out of the elevator get a quick squirt of the hand sanitizer."

After a pause, he added: "I think the hand sanitizer industry must be doing much better than it was before."

More information

A companion article gives more on the benefits of hand-washing.

Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

OF INTEREST:
 

Latest News

Crouse Hospital Appoints Chief Information Officer
more >

MedEx Bedside Prescription Delivery Service

Free service offers convenience, patient education at discharge.
more >

CrouseSports Express After-Hours Ortho Care

Immediate care of orthopedic injuries in kids and adults.
more >

Weight Loss Surgery

Is it right for you? Attend a free information seminar held twice monthly.
more >

Quality at Crouse

See how Crouse Hospital strives to provide the best in patient care.
more >

Cheer Up That Special Someone

Say get well or welcome a new arrival with a gift purchased right at Crouse.

more >

Make an Online Donation Now

Your donation of any amount helps support Crouse services & programs in a meaningful way.
more >

Shop Online Now

Say get well, thinking of you or welcome new baby with a unique gift from the Crouse Gift Shop.

more >