It was about more than clowning around when the Caring Klowns took to the hospital entrances on Friday.
Nineteen clowns partnered with Alberta Occupational Health and Safety to highlight hand hygiene at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre on Friday morning.
Laine Dahms is a co-ordinator of volunteer resources at the Rimbey Hospital and Care Centre and she is also known as Squeeky the Clown.
“We want everybody to be aware that they sanitize their hands when they come in and they sanitize their hands when they leave and hopefully we’ll provide a few smiles while we’re doing it,” Dahms said.
As the multi-coloured clowns squirted visitors’ and patients’ hands with hand sanitizer, they also passed out stickers and booklets on influenza self-care that tells about how the flu is spread, symptoms and how to protect yourself.
“The message today is about handwashing, especially with all of the viruses going around. It’s just a really safe easy way to protect ourselves, to protect our visitors and our patients,” said Nancy Verdin, who is an occupational therapist and has volunteered as Wrinkles the Clown for the last five to six years.
Besides getting immunized, Alberta Health Services is encouraging people to wash their hands before eating, flossing, removing contact lenses or treating wounds, as well as after having contact with an ill person, after going to the washroom or changing a diaper, treating a wound, coughing, sneezing or handling garbage.
The clowns came from all over Alberta, including Drayton Valley, Sundre, Ponoka, Lacombe, Rimbey, Bentley, Red Deer, Rocky Mountain House and Innisfail, as part of a training session being held at the hospital.
Dahms said the Caring Klowns are volunteers who drop by hospitals and care centres and bring a smile, listen and take people’s minds off their problems momentarily. She said people are often willing to talk to them and share with them their successes, their fears and their needs.
“We lend an ear. We open our hearts and we’re there for them,” Dahms said.
Anyone interested in clowning around themselves can contact the volunteer co-ordinator at their local hospital.