The Scarborough Hospital sticks it to the flu

For the second year in a row, the Birchmount campus of The Scarborough Hospital topped all Toronto community hospitals for flu vaccination compliance, posting a rate nearly 84 per cent better than the median for acute care hospitals in the city.

The hospital’s General campus ranked third among Toronto community hospitals, with a rate 51 per cent better than the median.

“These results are outstanding, and demonstrate the culture of patient safety we are instilling at The Scarborough Hospital,” says Dr. John Wright, President and CEO. “Along with good hand hygiene, getting the flu shot is probably the easiest way we can protect our patients—and our staff and physicians—from the avoidable effects of the flu virus.”

A Stick It To The Flu campaign increased awareness of the importance of getting the flu shot at TSH over the past two years, and actively combated myths surrounding the vaccination. The result: compliance increased by 113 per cent at the Birchmount campus, and by 116 per cent at the General campus.

“Part of the reason this particular campaign was so successful is because we worked to identify the barriers to getting the flu shot,” says Yvonne Walfall, Manager of the Occupational Health Department at The Scarborough Hospital. “The campaign made it easier than ever for staff to get vaccinated, and was supported with a strong educational component that addressed the concerns of anyone unsure about whether to get the shot.”

Roving flu carts that took the vaccinations directly to busy front-line staff, coupled with fact sheets, an intranet campaign and extensive one-on-one education, proved effective in convincing staff and physicians to roll up their sleeves.

A cartoon image of a flu bug helped brand the campaign on posters, signage, ID badge stickers, screen savers and educational materials, making Stick It To The Flu a highly visible reminder about the importance of getting the flu shot.

“Having a strong visual identity definitely helped make this campaign a success,” says Teresa McCormack, RN and the hospital’s Occupational Health department campaign lead. “But really, it was about listening to staff and finding out why they might be reluctant to get the shot, and then addressing those concerns in a very strategic way.”

The Stick It To The Flu campaign earned The Scarborough Hospital two top honours from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)—an IABC/Toronto OVATION Award of Excellence, and the coveted Gold Quill Award of Merit, which was presented recently at the IABC’s World Conference in Chicago.