Sarah Lopez

Teamwork and creativity generate success

Sarah Lopez, RN, BSN
HealthSouth Desert Canyon
Las Vegas, NV

Sarah Lopez dramatically raised the infection prevention and control (IPC) standards in her rehabilitation facility by bringing a sense of teamwork and fun to IPC programs. Her efforts at HealthSouth Desert Canyon have resulted in a zero catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) rate since June 2015, as well as zero central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) since July 2014.

Shortly after making the switch to an IPC position, the former trauma nurse quickly realized that consensus was imperative to behavioral change. “I started out trying too hard and drove a wedge,” she said. “People were not getting on board.”

Lopez re-grouped, tapping into resources available through APIC for guidance and inspiration, and then consciously created a team of diverse personalities from different roles within her facility. She wanted a variety of perspectives, as well as a more holistic view of what was happening with staff compliance across the facility. Next, Lopez decided it was time to have some fun. Her team created a class incorporating finger paint to demonstrate the effective application of soap and water; another event featured a Halloween-themed game incorporating monsters and hand hygiene. In 2012, compliance for hand washing at the hospital was roughly 60 percent. Today, it averages 75 percent.

Lopez is also known—when supported by emerging practice and evidence—to push the boundaries and experiment. She drove a facility switch from antimicrobial soap to mild healthcare worker soap, which helped increase hand-washing compliance. Other initiatives included a push for greater catheter education and use of a new patient skin cleanser. “I’m outspoken and constantly looking for ways to improve,” she said.

Along the way, APIC has been an ally to Lopez, providing the guidance she needed. “Anytime you can engage others who want to help, you will have a better chance of succeeding,” she said.