Pat Reiner

Tackling Stubborn IP Challenges

Pat Reiner

Pat Reiner, RN, BSN, CIC
Avera Queen of Peace Hospital
Mitchell, SD

Pat Reiner, director of Infection Control and Employee Health at Avera Queen of Peace (AQOP) Hospital in Mitchell, South Dakota, exemplifies successful infection prevetion multi-tasking. During her 20 years at AQOP, Pat has developed creative, effective programs to address a wide range of infection prevention needs – from basic hand hygiene to C. difficile isolation procedures and seasonal flu vaccination.

A recent World Health Organization global survey found that nearly half of all healthcare professionals are still failing to comply with proper hand hygiene. Through consistent, comprehensive education programs and reminder posters targeting staff, patients and visitors, Reiner managed to turn hand washing apathy at AQOP into enthusiastic compliance.

“Anything is possible,” said Reiner. “I always ask people to tell me what’s wrong. Then we can find a way to fix it.” Her leadership led to a 97 percent hand hygiene compliance rate since 2008.

This same pragmatic and open leadership approach resulted in successful seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccination programs.

When Reiner assumed her role at AQOP in 1991 there “really wasn’t a flu vaccination program.” Employee vaccination rates hovered around 60 percent. Reiner set about to systematically identify and address the barriers preventing staff from getting the seasonal shot.

“A key component is having the vaccine available 24/7,” she said. “This accommodates employees who want to be compliant but are working off hours.” Her efforts led to vaccination rates of 92.9 and 99 percent, respectively, in AQOP’s acute- and long-term care facilities in 2010. Avera has since implemented Reiner’s programs across their 300 facilities nationwide.

Recently, at the request of the South Dakota Department of Health (SDDOH), AQOP delivered H1N1 education, supplies and vaccine to healthcare workers at 62 local facilities. Reiner co-facilitated this successful effort, as well as the delivery of 7,000 H1N1 flu vaccinations at schools and public events across four counties.

Moving forward, Reiner looks forward to the opportunities that new technologies will bring to the profession. “I’m glad I’m here to see it,” she says. “And I’m excited about the potential for these technologies to make IPs even more effective.”