The seven members of the Infection Prevention and Control (IP&C) Team at HealthEast Care System have leveraged their 122 years of collective experience to create a robust, innovative, and effective infection prevention program. The team is a recognized model for infection prevention collaboration and program development, positively impacting patients and healthcare professionals who engage with any of HealthEast’s four hospitals, outpatient services programs, surgery centers, medical clinics, home and hospice care, or medical transportation services.
Team members work in different HealthEast facilities, but function as one department, driving best practices and “systemizing” processes across HealthEast. “We believe infection prevention is a team sport,” said Boyd Wilson, MT(ASCP), MS, CIC, system director, IP&C.
It’s a team with a lot of wins on the board. They’ve created numerous, effective centralized functions and tools, including a surveillance database that enables them to mine and report system-wide information. They also standardized policies based on evidence-based infection prevention practices and created a liaison program to continually support and monitor best practices.
Through representation on key councils and committees, the team maintains infection prevention visibility and awareness across the HealthEast system. “Identify the most important meetings in your organization and ensure a team member attends each of them,” said Joan Bartholomew, RN, CIC, senior infection prevention specialist.
The team’s work has generated impressive results, including zero ICU central line-associated bloodstream infections, zero instances of ventilator-associated pneumonia in the long-term acute care respiratory population for two years, and low incidence of hospital-onset MRSA.
Despite its success, the HealthEast team is always looking to improve. “We look externally at how other teams work, as well as at our own team members’ successes,” said Kathy Miller, RN, CIC, senior infection prevention specialist.
The HealthEast team enthusiastically shares its tools and experiences with others. Every member has held a leadership role in the APIC Minnesota chapter and their work is featured in best practice forums, such as the Institute for Healthcare Improvement website.