Suliman Aljumaah, MD, ICHE & Irene Barron, ICHE

Meeting a challenge through vision and teamwork

Suliman Aljumaah, MD, ICHE & Irene Barron, ICHE
King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Dr. Suliman Aljumaah and Irene Barron embraced a challenge and in just two years created a world-class infection control and hospital epidemiology department.

In 2013, the senior leadership at King Faisal Hospital recognized that their infection control program was operating far below its potential due to lack of structure, staff, and consistency. Early the next year they charged Aljumaah, who soon appointed Barron to partner with him, with restructuring and re-invigorating the department to make it more efficient and effective.

Leveraging their combined 36 years of infection prevention experience, Alumaah and Barron focused on creating structure and teamwork to accomplish their charge. “We formed a vision of where we wanted the department to go,” Aljumaah said. “Our goal was to develop a sustainable department with a system and clear descriptions of roles and expectations.”

The pair then implemented processes and changes that supported their vision. Among many tactics, they created and filled vital department positions with people who shared their vision, increased training programs, instituted consistent and engaging department meetings, implemented a fully integrated CERNER computerized surveillance system, and coordinated the hospital’s first infection prevention and control workshop (attended by 450 delegates). Additionally, they constantly promoted collaboration—as well as both professional and personal development—among infection prevention and control team members.

“What started out as a very frustrated group evolved into an open, problem-solving team,” said Barron.

And this team has generated impressive results. Between 2014 and 2015, rates for numerous infections dropped across the hospital’s eight ICUs as real-time and electronic reporting, as well as a 24-hour infection control and hospital epidemiology on-call system, became effective. The infection control and hospital epidemiology department staff more than doubled (from 10 to 22) and infection prevention team-member certification and higher education increased four-fold.

“We still have work to do, but we’ve come a long way through structure and collaboration,” Aljumaah said.