University of Colorado Hospital

Engaging diverse staff to improve infection prevention practices

University of Colorado Hospital
Aurora, Colorado

Infection Prevention and Control Team:

  • Linda “B” Burton – Infection Preventionist
  • Tara Janosz – Infection Preventionist
  • Susan West – Director of Clinical Excellence and Patient Safety
  • Christopher Olson – Infection Preventionist
  • Teresa Hulett – Infection Preventionist
  • Larissa Pisney – Associate Medical Director of UCH Infection Prevention and Control
  • Michelle Barron – Medical Director, UCH Infection Prevention and Control
  • Theresa Ruiz – Data Management Specialist

Long-standing working relationships, extensive collaboration and exemplary communication enabled the infection prevention and control team (IPC) at University of Colorado Hospital to quickly contain a deadly multidrug-resistant organism.

In summer 2012, the hospital’s microbiology lab identified two patients infected with carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) that were later identified to be New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase (NDM)-producing. The IPC team immediately launched an investigation and engaged key resources. “We called the hospital CEO and chief nursing officer first to say, ‘We have a big problem and everyone has to be on the same page,’” said Michelle Barron, MD, the team’s medical director. “Having the top levels involved gave the problem gravitas from the beginning.”

The team also enlisted expertise and support from APIC, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – enabling more effective outbreak response, as well as efficient and accurate communication to other Colorado facilities and infection preventionists. “Knowing your limits helps,” said Dr. Barron “We tend to think, ‘We can handle this,’ but the assistance we received by engaging the right organizations early on was invaluable.”

The team prioritized comprehensive communication and education within their facility. “We went to everyone in the hospital – staff and patients – to explain what we were doing and why,” said Linda “B” Burton, infection preventionist. The team worked with nursing and administration to establish unit-specific guidelines, and rounded continuously to educate and encourage compliance.

As a result of the team’s efforts, the University of Colorado Hospital has not had a new NDM case in more than a year. In addition, recognition of this emerging regional threat was heightened; in November 2012 CRE became a reportable condition in Colorado.