Marti Heinze, RN, BSN, BS, CIC, uses creative thinking, practical solutions and collaboration to design and implement infection prevention processes that benefit her facility, community, and state.
In 2006, Heinze became the sole infection preventionist (IP) for the 123-bed Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center (GCRMC) acute-care facility and its free-standing ambulatory surgical center, inpatient rehabilitation facility, and 21 physician practices.
“We have the same problems as bigger facilities, but with fewer people to address them,” said Heinze. “We wear multiple hats and it enables us to network better.”
To this end, Heinze relies heavily on her infection prevention colleagues. “I’m on the APIC website at least three times every week and have half the IPs in the state on speed dial,” she said. “Many times someone has already tackled the problem I’m facing.” Leveraging their collective experience, Heinze and colleagues created a state infection prevention collaborative that focuses on one infection prevention issue annually.
Heinze’s proactive, collaborative approach to generating high impact infection prevention programs is also demonstrated by an antimicrobial stewardship program she created.
Initially uncertain what “antimicrobial stewardship” (AS) comprised, Heinze asked a staff pharmacist for help. Together they determined that an AS program could impact IP issues they were dealing with every day. They developed a program that includes educational tools outlining antimicrobial guidelines for physicians, pharmacy, and lab personnel, as well as daily pharmacy reviews of antimicrobial use appropriateness. From 2006 to 2011, healthcare-associated MRSA at GCRMC decreased by 83 percent due in part to the collaborative AS program.
Heinze and her team developed a template toolbox and took their AS program “on the road”, presenting around the country about antimicrobial stewardship in rural hospitals. Many facilities have used the GCRMC model to guide their own AS programs.
According to Heinze, generating significant impact without significant resources boils down to approach: “Find solutions that are mutually beneficial for you and the medical team – solutions that make their day easier and your process better,” she said.