John Fall

Building IPC from the ground up

John Fall, RN, BSN, CIC
Doctors Medical Center
Modesto, CA

When John Fall was offered the infection prevention and control (IPC) position at Doctors Medical Center in 1975, he was an intensive care unit nurse with no formal IPC training. Despite being excited about the change, he faced the daunting task of building his hospital’s IPC program from scratch. “It was all new to me,” Fall said.

Fall took a very practical approach to educate himself and advance the rudimentary program at his facility. He researched Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, visited academic centers, and attended the CDC surveillance course in Atlanta.

Over time, his common sense approach—along with the integration of tracking software—enabled Fall and his team to dramatically reduce their facility’s infection rates. Consistent execution of basics, such as hand hygiene and gaining buy-in from medical staff for all prevention bundles, was supplemented by Fall’s commitment to science-based practices and comprehensive education and training: “We provide infection control training to all employees,” he said.

Between 2005 and 2014, Fall and his team saved their hospital $12.4 million through prevention of catheter-associated urinary tract infections and central line-associated bacteremias alone. The hospital has not identified a single central line-associated bacteremia in their neonatal intensive care unit since 2009.

Recently, the Stanislaus County Communicable Disease Taskforce recognized Fall for his leadership. His advice to others? Network and share information as much as possible. “Get certified as soon as you can and get out of the office to do surveillance,” he says. “You learn by doing and interacting.”

After nearly 45 years as a registered nurse, Fall recently retired—but it won’t be all relaxation: He is embarking on a second career as a part-time principal. “What I’ve learned about interacting with others will undoubtedly serve me well in my next venture,” he said.