Clean Hands: Promoting Healthy Habits to Students 

Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital, CIGNA and Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District are taking steps to help create a healthier environment for students in northwest Houston schools by promoting hand cleanliness. The hospital and CIGNA recently donated funds to the school district for the purchase of hand sanitizing stations to be located in more than seventy elementary, middle, junior high and high schools.  

“Hands could be home to thousands of bacteria and viruses that can cause infections such as strep throat or the flu,” says Cheryl Briggs, RN, infection control nurse at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital. “We believe that preventing the spread of infections begins with good hygiene. By helping students practice simple habits, such as hand washing and utilizing hand sanitizers, they can protect their health and fight the spread of infection.”

The stations will be setup throughout major hallways and cafeterias in every Cypress-Fairbanks ISD school campus. The stations are filled with instant hand sanitizing gel that is automatically dispensed. Students simply hold their hands underneath the dispenser and the station dispenses the right amount of gel needed for hand sanitizing.

“Hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs and avoid getting sick,” explains Dr. James Nadler, market medical executive for CIGNA HealthCare in Houston. “When soap and water are unavailable, students will now have ready access to an alcohol-based sanitizer.”

Other ways to prevent the spread of infection include covering the mouth and nose when during a sneeze or cough, caring for minor scrapes and cuts by cleaning and dressing the wounds, and avoiding close contact with others when sick.

“When students practice good hygiene, they are healthier,” says Kelli Durham, Assistant Superintendent for Communication in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD. “Attention to hand washing is also a way students can demonstrate their respect for the health of those around them.”

Mom was right - clean your hands!
According to the CDC, the single most important thing we can do to keep from getting sick and spreading illness to others is to clean our hands. Correct hand cleaning may help reduce the spread of colds, flu and infectious diarrhea. It also may stop the spread of antibiotic-resistance germs and serious, potentially life-threatening diseases like hepatitis. This is because most germs are transferred by hand-to-hand contact. A sick person coughs, sneezes or blows his nose. You shake hands and then rub your eyes, nose or mouth. The germs from the sick person’s hands enter your body and start replicating. Before you know it, people all around have the same illness.  

Have you cleaned your hands today?
Washing hands with soap and clean water for 20 seconds is a sensible strategy for hand hygiene and is recommended by the CDC and other experts, especially when hands are visibly soiled. If soap and clean water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizing product is recommended. To learn more about hand cleaning, visit the American Society for Microbiology’s Clean Hands Campaign.