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 14 of 36

14 ICT November 2018 "The health and safety of our personnel is very important to us, and we work together to make sure it has a positive impact on our patients," says Barone. "In our perspective you need to embrace each other's knowledge and work together because so much of what we do is connected and affects each other," says Schrantz. "To our readers who have any doubt consider this… if IPC focuses on patients, and OH focuses on employees, and employees take care of patients, and patients rely on employees for safe care, how do remove any part of this equation?" Collaboration is clearly key. "It is really important that IP and OH communicate and work as a team," Hurst emphasizes. "This allows a free fl ow of communication about potential communicable conditions that have occurred in the healthcare facilities and the treatment and care of the individuals. There are times that employees may approach Employee Health with concerns about patients that we are unaware of. OH must also inform IPC of any concerns they have regarding illnesses that could be communicable to patients. Most importantly, there must be a mutual respect for each department's role in keeping healthcare workers and patients safe." Barone explains that having a plan that is understood by both departments is essential to a high-functioning safety culture. "It is important that OH knows and understands the Infection Control Plan that is developed at the beginning of the year to identify and minimize risk to both patients and healthcare workers," she says." For example, if hand hygiene compliance is both a risk and goal, OH should be aware because the more employees clean their hands, the higher risk of dermatitis, and other skin issues. During Infl uenza season, OH should be aware of the number of patients admitted with fl u and fl u-like symptoms for employee illness tracking." Schrantz advises that IPC "be aware of employee illness surveillance so that if there are increased number of patients with similar illness, or potentially a patient causing employee illness, I would be aware. Also, IPC should know the percentage of employee fl u vaccination to know how it may affect the spread of disease." Barone adds, "In our facility, we have found that sharing an offi ce has proven to be effective with communication, reaching goals, and showing unity to the staff. If this isn't possible and departments are separate, communication is key. Discuss what the goals are for the year and how they overlap. Is there education for staff that can be combined? When will fl u vaccinations start? Share monthly dashboards with goals and actions. In our situation we learned enough about each other's positions to be able to 'cover' for each other. Theresa even became certifi ed in infection control (CIC). This helps in understanding each role and keeps things consistent and up to date even if one person is away." "Wearing both hats can be both a blessing and a curse," Barone continues. "When you do it all, you can do it any way you want to. However, when you do it all, you do it all! The most important thing in my mind is to get the support of administration. Make them aware of the requirements and regulations, the infection control plan, recommended staffi ng for infection prevention departments, and importance of certifi cation." "Form a strong relationship with nursing supervisors so they will help with education and vaccination, etc., especially on the "off-shifts," Schrantz suggests. "Utilize vendors for education of new products. Be the expert and a consultant, empowering the department managers to enforce and monitor employee activity. Realize that infection prevention and employee wellness must be a team effort." Shared Priorities A s we will explore elsewhere in this issue, healthcare personnel vaccination is one occupational health-related issue that has profound implications for infection prevention and control. "Vaccination and the use of PPE is a top priority in reducing the spread of any communicable illness and has prevented the spread of diseases so many times," Hurst says. "I feel we have come a long way from years ago, but we still have some work to do. Eye protection continues to be a concern to me, as staff members do not know when they will be coughed on or have drainage/blood splash and hit them in the eyes." "Vaccination is a high priority in our facility, so much that we take a mobile cart to the departments for fl u shots so that those who are too busy to leave their area to receive it," reports Barone. "We commonly encounter patients from the Amish community who are unvaccinated for example, and so we highly encourage all staff to take advantage of the vaccines we offer free of charge. Both OH and IPC understand the importance of protecting the patients and employees. We even offer a free fl u vaccination clinic for our employees' families. Pre-employment vaccination status is verifi ed prior to start of work as well. We currently have higher standards for PPE than the CDC recommends. I believe that making it easy increases compliance. Staff members must wear gown and gloves in every isolation room, and a mask when indicated. It takes away the guess-work, its easily understood by staff and visitors, and makes for easy auditing." Ultimately, supporting the health and safety of healthcare personnel supports the goal of patient safety, so the two disciplines remain inseparable. Hurst emphasizes the value of this connection: "I believe that without safe staff you cannot provide safe patient care. Many times, it is mentioned, but many institutions have not place a priority on the connection when looking at the patient safety issues. When staff are safer they will become more engaged, they will not be spreading illness to patients because they will wear PPE and get immunized, all this adds to fewer errors and spreading of disease. I also believe if we look at safe patient handling, falls will decrease." Ò Vaccination and the use of PPE is a top priorit y in reducing the spread of any communicable illness and has prevented the spread of diseases so many times.

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