Stephanie Brooks

Partnering for Success

Stephanie Brooks, RN, BSN, MPH, CIC
Mercy Health Partners
Knoxville, TN

Stephanie C. Brooks, RN, BSN, MPH, CIC, regional director of Infection Prevention and Control at Mercy Health Partners in Tennessee, has earned her APIC Hero designation for the remarkable reductions she has helped achieve in central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI), both in adults and neonates, and in urinary tract infections within two of the seven hospitals in her healthcare system.

Her efforts helped reduce CLABSI within one hospital by 74 percent and reduced urinary tract infections by 17 percent within Mercy Medical Center – St. Mary’s. The neonatal intensive care unit has gone three years and nine months without a CLABSI.

“We’re still looking at reducing CLABSI even further because the goal is zero,” said Brooks, who has now also directed her efforts toward working on sharps safety. “That’s what we all do—we set goals each year and work toward achieving them.”

A member of APIC since 1989, Brooks was also instrumental in encouraging surrounding hospitals to participate in an initiative to reduce ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) in partnership with a community business coalition called HealthCare 21. As a result, the community VAP infection rate was reduced by 36 percent, resulting in a savings of tens of thousands of dollars.

Brooks has done much to bring competing hospitals to the table and agree on common goals, such as contact isolation and what data measures should be submitted in the way of information as it applied to MRSA.

“These hospitals may be in competition, but when it comes to reducing infection, there’s no competition—we’re all about improving patient safety,” she said. “We market against each other, but when it comes to infection prevention, we get along very well.”

While she admits she was not initially in favor of mandatory public infection reporting, after attending an APIC conference in Atlanta a few years back and listening to both sides of the argument for and against public reporting of infection rates, “I decided to do something about it. I recall a speaker saying ‘The train has already left the station,’ and I wanted to help steer the train as opposed to just riding along.”

She contacted her local and state representatives and volunteered to assist with drafting legislation, helping to create a manageable and more effective reporting system consisting of selecting infections and procedures already targeted by most hospitals as significant. She was invited to participate on a statewide taskforce for reducing hospital infections by the Tennessee Commissioner of Health. The effort also recommended that utilization of NHSN be mandatory for reporting and because of this, Tennessee participates in NHSN reporting for CLABSI and coronary artery bypass graft (CABG).

“We just had our first state report published,” she said. “There was very little public reaction to it.”

Brooks is a member of the Smoky Mountain Chapter of APIC and has served as president and president-elect of her chapter twice. She’s also served on the board of directors several times, and has twice served as a legislative representative. She has led the interaction of APIC chapters in the state and has been a leader in community efforts to reduce targeted infections and promoting a public hand hygiene campaign.