Meet the Heroes - Deborah Marciniak


Deborah Marciniak Finding IP Resources through Creative Thinking

Deborah Marciniak, BSN, RN, MHA/INF, CIC, FCN
Baptist Hospital of Southeast Texas
Beaumont, TX

When resources are tight, it pays to be creative.

As a department of one in her 400-bed hospital, Director of Infection Prevention Deborah Marciniak found it challenging to balance state reporting requirements while working proactively to reduce infection rates and improve prevention processes. With no additional budget available and no potential to expand her staff, the situation called for some innovative thinking.

When a Lamar University student interning at Marciniak’s hospital requested rotation through Infection Prevention, Marciniak spotted a chance to enhance timely reporting of notifiable conditions without adding headcount.

“I saw a unique opportunity to offer infection prevention students a real-world application for their major and fill a real hospital need at the same time,” said Marciniak.

With enthusiastic support from hospital administration, Marciniak pursued an affiliation agreement between the University and her hospital, and launched the Baptist Hospital of Southeast Texas IP intern program.

The community health student who inspired a solution to Marciniak’s staffing and reporting challenges became her first intern. Participating students facilitate required reporting and complete a project that provides a service or benefit to the hospital. This first student took ownership of a key project – facilitating organization compliance with new state laws regarding HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis B testing for pregnant women. The project – and the internship experience - was a success.

The program’s second intern, a native of Uganda, compared notifiable condition trends over a 10-year period within the hospital to broader community trends. By highlighting community health initiatives associated with these conditions, the hospital could identify programs that were synergistic with risk reduction strategies intended to lower overall infection rates or prevent unrecognized exposures at the hospital.

“This experience cultivated skills that may be beneficial in future practice settings when she returns to Uganda and could serve as a model for programs there,” says Marciniak.

Meanwhile, back in Texas, Marciniak’s IP intern program continues to serve as a “win-win” model for participating students, her organization and the community.

“I know what we do here impacts patient care every day, saving dollars and lives,” says Marciniak. “Partnering with others not only makes them part of the vision and the process, it also makes the infection prevention department more efficient and proactive.”