Lorraine Harkavy, RN, MS, CIC

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Lorraine Harkavy served as APIC president in 1987.

Read Lorraine Harkavy’s presidential address, published in AJIC, titled: “Decade of progress: Decade of change. The future is now!”

In celebration of APIC’s 40th anniversary, Lorraine shared memories of APIC: 

One of the great challenges infection preventionists faced at the time of my presidency was HIV infection and AIDS.  At the time it this was still a relatively new infection control concern, and one where knowledge and understanding were still incomplete, nerves were frazzled as some healthcare workers were fearful about ‘catching’ the yet to be fully understood disease, treatment was limited to one drug, [there was] no sense that the disease was chronic, and not necessarily fatal, and [there was] only [a] beginning understanding of how to protect healthcare workers from getting the disease. In response to these concerns during my presidency, and the first time in the history of our organization, APIC published a seminal position statement on the ‘Transmission of AIDS in the Health Care Setting.’ This document incorporated APIC’s position on the best possible approaches to minimize transmission of AIDS to health care workers. 

Other milestones in 1987 included the first time APIC ever developed and presented regionally based educational programs which met both organizational aims and the needs of APIC’s members. APIC became ‘known’ through outreach leading to heightened awareness by government officials, healthcare organizations, accrediting groups and the public about APIC and the valuable role infection control and prevention play in the health of the individual and the nation.  We worked with other professional nursing groups, reached out to publishers of nursing textbooks to provide review of infection control information included in these books and assure accuracy, we published our first guideline which met the needs of our membership, held the first research clinic which was presented during APIC ’87 recognizing the need for IPs to better understand the research process and the need for more research on the impact of our recommended interventions. 

Where do I begin when I’m asked ‘what does APIC mean to me?’ During my tenure as president, member of the board, and member I was fortunate to be surrounded by dedicated, accomplished colleagues. People I respected, people who helped me to grow professionally, and people I cared about and with whom I enjoyed spending time. It was rewarding to see the accomplishments of so many committed and caring infection preventionists who took their work seriously and shared their knowledge and skills willingly. We worked hard and succeeded often in the face of adversity, though not always, which heightened our resolve. We got the job done and proved ourselves over and over with each new challenge saving lives, preventing serious infections for patients, staff and visitors, and bringing down healthcare costs. APIC was the ‘gathering place’ where I got to know and share time, stories and experiences with an impressive, dedicated group of professionals. 

Carole DeMille was a warm, kind person. I never saw Carole that she didn’t have a smile on her face. She was passionate about infection control and prevention and had every patient in her mind and the importance of protecting them and the staff that worked so hard to care for and heal the sick. When I started in infection control I contacted Carole for advice and guidance. She was always willing to help and was gracious to share her time and knowledge. Along the way we always took our work seriously, but not ourselves. So we had a few good laughs at ourselves when we realized we were still learning and always would be. Carole had a great sense of humor and a warm spirit.