Christian Pux does not like to sing his own praises. It’s simply not his thing. However, thanks to his positive attitude the senior infection control nurse of the Geriatric Health Centres Graz has achieved a lot: hand hygiene in Styria’s long-term care facilities has improved. Christian Pux is a role model – and our Modern Day Hero of Hand Hygiene.

What does hygiene have to do with humour? Don’t you take this issue seriously?

Of course I do. But when it comes to hygiene people often focus on the things that do not work. And the things that work very well are taken for granted. For me personally, however, it is important to get away from this focus on shortcomings. I always try to reverse things and place emphasis on the positive aspects. And it is well received when we approach hygiene with humour.

Your facility is a pioneer in hand hygiene. It was one of the first in Styria to participate in the “AKTION Saubere Hände” (Clean Hands Campaign). How did this come about?

This was in 2011 during my training as infection control nurse and when I was in charge of evaluating our facility’s basic data. I recognised that we could perform even better. This was exactly when the Styrian Health Fund started implementing the “AKTION Saubere Hände” campaign, which had only existed in Germany before, but not in Austria. We at the Geriatric Health Centres seized the opportunity to improve hand hygiene and registered right away in November 2011.

Our Hero of Hand Disinfection: Christian Pux
Our Hero of Hand Disinfection: Christian Pux

What is your recipe for increasing hand hygiene compliance in your facility?

Our hygiene team has a clear focus on practical training. And here we spare no effort. For example, we do small-group bedside training sessions on hand hygiene during whole-body washing. After these sessions, we regularly conduct feedback rounds in which the hygiene team explains which moments require hand disinfection and which can do without. And there are of course many other measures, for example campaign days for patients, residents and visitors, etc.

In addition, you carry out comprehensive compliance observations. Why?

We observe certain activities of different occupational groups. Although they are costly in terms of labour, these observations allow us to easily identify potentials for improvement and train the employees even more efficiently. We, for example, observe hand hygiene compliance of nursing staff during whole-body washing or of physicians during venipunctures. Depending on the outcome we then adapt our training courses.


Geriatric Health Centres Graz

How has compliance changed since the start of the campaign?

We have witnessed a fantastic development. The employees’ awareness of the importance of hand hygiene has increased significantly. This becomes particularly evident when looking at how well training sessions, campaign days, etc. are received. Also the consumption of hand disinfectants is a confirmation. In one house the consumption even increased by 120 per cent. The Geriatric Health Centres’ guiding principle is: “With us the people are in the best hands”. And our hygiene team completes: “With us the people are in the best and disinfected hands”.

In addition, you have gotten involved in a Styrian committee for better hand hygiene compliance.

Yes, that’s true. As member of the “Hand Hygiene” work group of the Styrian Health Fund I am the contact for employees of long-term care facilities. We want to motivate nursing staff to improve hand hygiene and support them in realising corresponding measures. Hence, we organised the “AKTION Saubere Hände” information day, which was attended by more than 70 employees from care facilities. We were very pleased about the great interest.

Which experience during work has touched you most?

Well, I was impressed when a patient participated in one of our campaigns. We were in the entrance area to inform visitors about hand hygiene. And the patient simply joined and supported us. She approached the visitors and explained them that she had fallen ill less often since she had disinfected her hands regularly.

Christian Pux in action
Christian Pux in action
The hygiene team of the Geriatric Health Centres Graz
The hygiene team of the Geriatric Health Centres Graz

Marion Pongratz, infection control nurse as well, nominated her colleague Christian Pux as Modern Day Hero.

What inspires you most about your colleague?
Christian Pux has an incredible commitment to hand hygiene. He not only has done a lot of pioneering work here in our facility, but also has supported other employees from other long-term care facilities in Styria. He does some convincing, because he is convinced himself. Particularly inspiring is how he succeeds in motivating others. He is always positive and has a ready ear.

What is the significance of role models?

Good role models are most important in hand hygiene. However, the decisive factor is that one sets an example as well. My colleagues and I, for example, do not wear any jewellery during our shifts. Thus, we try to be role models also to this end.

Christian Pux is senior infection control nurse at the Geriatric Health Centres Graz.

The facility comprises the Albert Schweitzer clinic and four nursing homes. In 2014, the Geriatric Health Centres won the Austrian State Prize for Corporate Quality, which is awarded based on the EFQM model.

For questions and suggestions:

Christian Pux
Infection control nurse/academic expert on hospital hygiene

EFQM-2014 Staatspreis Unternehmensqualität 2014


Do you have a colleague who cares deeply about top hand hygiene standards in your hospital or clinic? They’re passionate about promoting hygiene compliance and have perhaps introduced or reinforced specific protocols where you work? We want to give these people the recognition they deserve and feature them on this website. Nominate your Modern Day Hero today!