Mercy Joseph

Building an effective infection prevention and control department

Mercy Joseph, RN, BSc, CIC
King Fahd Medical City
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Mercy Joseph—in partnership with a single physician—spearheaded creation of the infection prevention and control (IPC) department at King Fahd Medical City. Her initiative and determination resulted in a robust and effective department that has significantly reduced the incidence of life-threatening infections among hospital patients and staff.

A nurse who has maintained her certification in infection prevention and control (CIC®) since 2006, Joseph’s first step in establishing an IPC department at the 1,100-bed tertiary care center was recruiting nurses to join her as infection preventionists (IPs). Joseph began by providing basic infection prevention training, successfully enlisting eight qualified nurses to assist in the IPC department.

Joseph focused next on implementing bundles to reduce device-related infections, including central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) and catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI). She engaged multidisciplinary teams, emphasizing consistency and communication to overcome resource limitations. Over time, Joseph and her staff reduced CLABSI rates from 8.3 per 1,000 device days to 1.7 per 1,000 days, and CAUTI from 5.5 per 1,000 days to 1 per 1,000 days. Other infection rates reached zero for more than six months.

The King Fahd IPC department successfully applied its learnings to control a Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak among the hospital’s patients and staff. Joseph worked intensively with staff from other disciplines to ensure the necessary IPC resources and measures were in place, and intensified education around hand hygiene and personal protective equipment.

“Mercy Joseph’s personal effort and involvement in the MERS outbreak was tremendous,” said Mahmoud Mukahal, RN, BSc, MScQSHM, CIC, chairman of the King Fahd Medical City IPC department. “She is one of the most dedicated and highly skilled professionals I know.”