Putting the gleam in clean

He made women’s hearts flutter, belting out some of Elvis’ most popular tunes while sending a very important message – clean hands save lives.


It was an uplifting day as Elvis, played by Rev. Matt Martin, made his way through several St. Joseph’s sites spreading the word during Infection Control Week. With a dazzling teal jumpsuit, Elvis-esq sideburns and curved lip, Martin serenaded staff, patients and visitors with his impressive vocals only pausing to pump alcohol-based hand rub into people’s hands and to crack the occasional quip. “We’re saving lives, one squirt at time!” Martin’s Southern drawl echoed in cafeterias, lobbies and patient care areas much to the delight of onlookers who laughed, took videos and photos and joked around with the King of Rock and Roll.

“We know clean hands are the first line of defense in preventing infection,” says Rhodora Laylo, coordinator, Infection Safety. “This was an opportunity for us to send the same message we always do, but in a creative and eye-catching way.”

Elvis holding hand washEye-catching indeed. As Martin made his way through the halls, the silver on his suit gleaming, he struck a chord for those who heard him. For some it was good old fashioned fun, but for others his songs stirred up memories of the past and brought up unexpected emotions.

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Elvis and his “entourage,” (infection prevention and communication staff), crashed meetings, participated in impromptu dances and mini-concerts with Veterans and embarrassed staff in cafeterias and coffee lines as Elvis swooned in with his bottle of hand cleaner. During one very special moment at Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care a patient - wearing an Elvis t-shirt - could not believe his eyes when Elvis sat down and sang Love Me Tender just to him.

“It truly was an amazing day,” said Laylo. “People were drawn in by the music and the appeal of Elvis but Matt departed the hand hygiene message on everyone we encountered. No one got past him without washing their hands!”

The clean hands movement even impacted Martin, Reverend at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Lucan and member of the St. Joseph’s Spiritual Care Advisory Committee. “I really enjoyed meeting so many people and spreading the word. And my hands never been cleaner,” he laughs. 

“Part of this awareness event was to explain to patients and family members that it is absolutely ok to ask your care provider if they washed their hands,” says Laylo. “That’s why we wear buttons that say Please Remind Me. It’s important that everyone be advocates and partners in their own care.”

As a health care provider it is St. Joseph’s responsibility to protect the vulnerable patients we care for by ensuring we do not spread infections; and hand hygiene is the most effective way to prevent the spread of disease.

Now St. Joseph’s is tasked with keeping the momentum going, continuing the relentless pursuit of safety and always doing as Elvis does - be Hound Dog for hand Hygiene.

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