Olga Pînteac: spreading the message that “clean hands save lives”

Nursing Association of Moldova

Olga Pînteac, Chief Nurse at the Institute of Emergency Medicine in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Olga Pînteac began her nursing career, which now spans more than 35 years, as a surgical nurse. She worked on a surgery ward for 15 years before being promoted to a nurse manager role.

“Over the course of my years as a surgical nurse, my colleagues and I had a priority objective: to strictly respect cleanliness and take the measures necessary to ensure that our operating rooms were completely sanitary,” she says.

“I attended thousands of surgeries that were conducted without complications or infection, and I know that our commitment to good hygiene played an important part in this.”

Today, Olga is Chief Nurse at the Institute of Emergency Medicine in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova, leading more than 650 nurses. In this position, one of her main priorities is to ensure that her colleagues internalize the vital importance of hand hygiene and implement it into their daily work.

“I brought a commitment to hand hygiene with me when I become the chief nurse, only this time I wanted the whole institution to be as clean and sanitary as an operating room,” she says.

To make this vision a reality, Olga worked with a team of nurses to pioneer a “Clean hands save lives” initiative, which included equipping the Institute of Emergency Medicine with 390 antiseptic dispensers and organizing several training courses for doctors and nurses. A total of 1800 employees took part, including sitting an exam and receiving a certificate for their participation.

“I can say with confidence that, together with my team of nurses, I have succeeded in implementing one of the key elements of safe and quality health care: hand hygiene.”

The model that Olga helped pioneer has now spread to other medical institutions throughout the country – and beyond. Olga and her team presented a report on hand hygiene and organized a master class on the topic during a national conference organized by the Nursing Association of Moldova on International Nurses Day in May 2018. This led to master classes being offered in 80 medical institutions across the country, and to the introduction of a similar course in the curricula of medical colleges.

Olga has presented at conferences outside the Republic of Moldova, including the National Conference of Nurses in Romania. She also developed a joint hand-hygiene project between the Institute and a hospital in Tallinn, Estonia.

In addition to her work on hand hygiene, Olga and her team of nurses launched an information and public awareness campaign to promote the nursing profession. It aimed at giving the younger generation a better understanding of the role of nurses in health care and society. The campaign culminated with a flash mob on International Nurses Day in 2018, which was covered by the Moldovan press.