Katie Cary

Making patients safer through leadership and innovation

Katie Cary, MPH, MT (ASCP), CIC
Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center and the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at P/SL
Denver, Colorado

After working as a medical technologist in microbiology for six years, Katie Cary decided she wanted to become more involved with the complete spectrum of patient care. Yet, she had difficulty transitioning into the infection prevention and control (IPC) field until she met a nurse who recognized the value of her expertise and “took a chance” on hiring a medical technologist with no IPC experience. 

Since then, Cary’s commitment to be at the forefront of IPC has reaped benefits for her hospital, her patients, and the Colorado infection prevention community. Known for being an early adopter, Cary advocates for conducting thorough research, and then gathering the evidence and support necessary to try new IPC technologies and techniques. “When you’re not seeing improvement, you have to do things differently or you’re not going to get better,” she said. “This approach has really paid off for our team at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s, allowing us to be progressive while providing the safest patient care.”

One of Cary’s early successes was the introduction of alcohol-impregnated caps for central lines, part of an effort to reduce central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) in bone marrow transplant patients. The evidence was strong, but the product was expensive and not yet widely utilized. Ultimately, the caps helped the hospital reduce CLABSI in this population by 65 percent.

Cary advises other IPs who want to innovate to “be brave and be visible.”  She also emphasizes building relationships to gain support: “You need to bring people with you and inspire them to make patient safety a priority. If you grow programs from the ground up, and involve all key stakeholders, everybody has a piece in wanting initiatives to be successful.” 

Cary also makes mentoring a priority: “I love mentoring people coming into the field because I remember what it was like to be a new IP. The best resources can and should be our peers.”