Infection Control Today

NOV 2018

ICT delivers to infection preventionists & their colleagues in the operating room, sterile processing/central sterile, environmental services & materials management, timely & relevant news, trends & information impacting the profession & the industry

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Page 12 of 36

12 ICT November 2018 cover story By Kelly M. Pyrek T wo cornerstones of a culture of safety in the healthcare environment are occupational health (OH) services and infection prevention and control (IPC), and without direct communication and collaboration, healthcare personnel and patient safety can be jeopardized. When One Functions as Two In some hospitals, OH services and IPC are handled by one leader tasked with leveraging the synergies of both disciplines into a comprehensive healthcare worker and patient safety program. Personnel can be cross-trained in core activities such as surveillance, as well as receive education and instruction around the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE), vaccination, sharps safety and handwashing, among other interventions. While both disciplines emphasize a culture of safety within the healthcare institution, there are nuances between the two that should be explored to better understand each department's clinical and operational imperatives. For example, individuals working in OH might not be up to speed on isolation precautions for patients and the implications of non-compliance. "With emerging infectious diseases and new resistant strains occurring it would be helpful for IPC to review these with OH to discuss how they isolation is handled and if any follow-up is needed for employees," says Bobbi Jo Hurst, MBA, BSN, RN, COHN-S, manager of employee health and safety at Penn Medicine/Lancaster General Health and community liaison for the Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare (AOHP). "It might be nice when something new comes out that IPC is learning about that they send a fact sheet to OH." Conversely, Hurst notes, "I do feel that IPC should be aware that OH staff members are one the of their great resources for protecting the patients through the protected employees. That starts with an awareness of what each of the departments does and how they support each other through this. In addition, they certainly need to know the requirements that OH has for staff regarding vaccines as well as the follow-up that OH does for communicable illnesses." And if just one individual truly is wearing both OH and IPC hats, it is critical for this time-strapped leader to secure the resources, staff and budget they need to attend to both disciplines adequately. "Many times, resources are a problem when it comes to OH," Hurst confi rms. "This has been a discussion held at many meetings. IPC has the standard of staffi ng that is appropriate. OH staff job duties vary so much that it is diffi cult to even know what an adequate staff pattern should be unless consultants have been hired to accurately evaluate the staffi ng needs. Then with this said, it does not translate to an employee/staff ratio that can be shared with all OH departments. The best answer to this is that it must be individualized, and some type of study conducted to ensure adequate staffi ng is in place." When Two Become One And sometimes, it's a dynamic duo that addresses both disciplines as a combined force. Lisa Barone, BSN, RN, CIC, director of infection control, and Theresa Schrantz, LPN, CIC, employee health coordinator — both at Brooks-TLC Hospital System — have teamed up to create a combined approach that works particularly well for their facility. Occupational Health: Joining Forces With Infection Prevention Ò With emerging infectious diseases and new resistant strains occurring it would be helpful for IPC to review these with OH to discuss how they isolation is handled and if any follow-up is needed for employees.

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