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Healthcare Workers Drive Flu Prevention in MD

Matt Phillion, for HealthLeaders Media, December 29, 2010

Sometimes, it's all about the marketing.

Take flu shots for instance. How do you best ensure that you can reach the optimal percentage of staff? How about an attention-grabbing catch-phrase?

At Peninsula Regional Medical Center, Salisbury, MD, a new theme is introduced every year during flu season. For 2010, the organization said "Boo to the Flu."

"We had Halloween-themed costumes, and gave out candy and stickers saying 'I said Boo to the Flu'," says Tracy Daugherty of Peninsula Regional's Employee Health department. They also held a drawing for a $50 gift certificate. Special artwork was created specifically for the event's stickers and posters.

"The Employee Health program has grown to reach out to not only employees, but contractors, physicians, volunteers, students, everyone who is associated with the hospital," says Karen Mihalik, RN, CIC, infection preventionist and member of Peninsula Regional's Flu Team.

"Boo to the Flu" was a follow-up to last year's theme, "Tackle the Flu," which promoted awareness with similar giveaways as well as staff wearing their favorite football jerseys to work.

This year, Peninsula had a new level of support from upper management in the form of mandatory net learning.

"This allows the organization to poll staff to find out why they may or may not be receiving the flu shot," says Daugherty. "We can find out the employees' reasons behind it, and educate to those reasons."

The net learning polling system has been in place for years, but was not mandatory until now. While the non-mandatory version was helpful, it was nowhere near as beneficial or educational as receiving feedback from all employees.

"We can use the information we learned from it to develop the program in the future," says Daugherty.

The employee flu shot clinics are part of a larger outreach project spearheaded by Peninsula Regional's overall healthcare awareness program.

"It's a multidisciplinary team," says Mihalik. "It's a big effort and not limited to just employees."

The program also includes family nights for flu shots, and the incredibly popular Drive-Thru Flu Clinic for the community. "We've been doing the Drive-Thru clinic for 17 years," says Mihalik.

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