Kelly Walkinshaw

Battling MRSA

Kelly Walkinshaw

Kelly Walkinshaw, RN, BSN
Oaklawn Hospital
Marshall, MI

Despite having only one year’s tenure as an infection preventionist, Kelly Walkinshaw, RN, BSN, approached the task of fighting multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) in her hospital with the zealousness of a seasoned professional. Walkinshaw saw the successful results of efforts when her department teamed up with the hospital’s ICU team to implement an active surveillance program in 2007.

“My purpose was to see how bad the MRSA situation really was out there,” she said. “And it was pretty bad.” About 62 percent of Oakland’s ICU patients tested positive for community-acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) when the program began. For nine months, patients admitted from either the Emergency Department or physician offices, or inpatients transferred to the ICU, were tested for MRSA via nasal swab. By the time the program concluded, CA-MRSA rates had dropped to 46 percent.

High MRSA rates and their subsequent decline convinced Walkinshaw to start a major hand hygiene campaign that is still in operation. “Because there are so many unknown carriers of MRSA, we needed to turn our focus to hand hygiene, which includes secret observers throughout the hospital – people who watch other people to see if they properly wash their hands,” she said. “It’s a way of keeping people interested in doing the right thing.”

In addition to her other duties, Walkinshaw counsels patients and families with MDROs and teaches medical and nursing staff to recognize and treat CA-MRSA. “You have to stay on top of the MRSA situation,” she said. “it’s everywhere, and it doesn’t suffice to say, “Oh well, so many people have it that there’s little than can be done.”