Wash Your Hands : Interview with Epidemiologist Jolian Stephens


Jolian Stephens MSHS (Cum laude),

Health Scientist, Epidemiologist.

If you would like to contact, please reach out jstephbusiness@gmail.com

What is your role and job as LEAD Covid-19 Epidemiologist at Fort Bend County?

In my role, I do the following tasks:

  •  Analyzes epidemiological data through the use of statistical measures.
  •  Assist with the surveillance and epidemiology of all aspects of employee health.
  •  Participates in analyzing, planning, developing, coordinating, and conducting specific epidemiological investigations or studies.
  •  Collects epidemiological data for the surveillance of specific diseases and conditions.
  •  Arranges for the cooperative use of epidemiological data with other agencies, other states, and national organizations such as the U.S. Center for Disease Control.
  •  Works with other health personnel in the control of public health problems.
  •  May coordinate with others to assist in the collection of epidemiological   data.
  •  Supervises cases investigators and contact tracers.
  •  Performs related work as assigned.

2.   What advice would you give to parents and caregivers of kids today?

    I think naturally, I would recommend educating your children as much as possible about the current status of the pandemic and find resources to help answer all their questions. Support them emotionally. Children are smart and resilient however they do require stability and support during this challenging time. Find a stable routine and as much as possible stick to it and provide them with as much social support that you can provide,  scheduling zoom calls, and ice cream runs and other safe practical social distance activities. Now is the time to support their emotional needs as much as possible since their is a disruption within their normal patterns and routines.

Also, don’t neglect your mental health, reach out to a trusted friend, see a therapists, and get as much help as possible when needed. You cannot pour from an empty glass and children are observant.

3.  How do people ensure that they have washed their hands to best prevent contact with virus and bacterial disease?

Set alarms as reminders, wash your hands as soon as you leave outside, touch surfaces, run errands and where possible keep a hand sanitizer on your person to use when washing hands is not convenient. Sometimes it’s easy to forget due to the magnitude of this pandemic coupled with life’s stress, routine and other tasks but as much as possible was your hands and ensure that you have a good song in the background playing while washing to do it precisely, scrub under your fingernails, the tips of your fingers, the nail bed, the back of your hands. CDC recommends 20 seconds or more for paper hand washing techniques.

4.  Do you feel visual reminders are helpful to ensure proper hand washing?  Is there any research to link the importance of visual reminders such as in hospitals to encourage hand washing?  

Yes, I do think visual reminders are important to reinforce the importance of washing your hands.  A Study conducted in 2014 on Hand-washing compliance with the use of visual cues shows that placing these cues to remind users to wash their hands  had significant effect on the numbers of users who washed their hands. The study conducted across 8 public restrooms using wireless sensors to record entry into public restrooms: showed an increase of 22.6% in towel use and 13.3% in soap use over a period of ten (10) weeks. This study even with limitations, is significant in demonstrating that Visual reminders do increase hand washing compliance.

5.  What else do you feel is important or critical to share with the community during this time, as related to hand washing?

 I think hand washing should not feel like a chore but something that is important for proper hygiene and maintenance. So much bacteria resides on our hands. Many of our skin irritations , and other causes are a direct result of bacterial accumulation. As a society, there are many alternatives to products and as such it’s easier to find soaps that don’t affect our body’s PH as well as lotions that helps with dryness of the hands if that is a concern. None the less, proper hand washing is pivotal not only to help fight Covid-19 but as a general precursor to help reduce FLU and other infections.

Studies show that “Teaching people about hand-washing helps them and their communities stay healthy. Hand-washing education in the community:

  •     Reduces the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 23-40% 2, 3, 6
  •     Reduces diarrheal illness in people with weakened immune systems by 58%  4
  •     Reduces respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16-21% 3, 5
  •     Reduces absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness in schoolchildren by 29-57% 7”




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  3. Ford, E. W.,Boyer, B.T., Menachemi, N., & Huerta, T. R. (2014). Increasing hand washing compliance with a simple visual cue. American Journal of Public Health 104 (10), 1851-1856.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4167083/
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    Trop Med Int Heal 2014; 19: 906–916.
  7. Wang Z, Lapinski M, Quilliam E, Jaykus LA, Fraser A. The effect of hand-hygiene interventions on infectious disease-associated absenteeism in elementary schools: A systematic literature review.external icon
    Am J Infect Control 2017; 45: 682–689