Statement attributable to Katrina Crist, MBA, Chief Executive Officer, APIC
Washington, DC, October 16, 2014 — The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) and its members were saddened by the death of Thomas Duncan last week, and are deeply concerned about the Dallas healthcare personnel who have contracted the Ebola virus. As infection prevention and control experts, we are working with public health authorities on steps to increase preparedness and protect healthcare workers.
APIC’s 15,000 infection preventionist members are experts in identifying sources of infections and limiting their transmission in healthcare facilities. They accomplish this by developing appropriate protocols and educating healthcare staff on processes and procedures to protect against infectious diseases. APIC is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine the best way to prepare facilities to expedite training for healthcare workers so that they may better protect themselves against Ebola virus transmission, properly identify potential Ebola patients, and transfer them to specialized care facilities when needed.
The unfortunate transmission of Ebola to nurses caring for a patient with an advanced Ebola infection demonstrates why we must strengthen protocols, adherence, and protection for the healthcare personnel working directly in the highest risk areas where exposure to bodily fluids is high. It has also pointed out the need to minimize this risk by transferring patients to select facilities with specialized training in adherence to Ebola protocols.
The recent outbreak of Ebola illustrates why facility-wide infection prevention programs are critical and require adequately trained, staffed, and resourced infection control departments. Although many healthcare facilities have only one infection preventionist on staff, these dedicated healthcare professionals are providing expertise to enhance Ebola preparations by training healthcare personnel on proper preventive measures.
For months before Ebola reached our shores, APIC member infection preventionists have undertaken numerous initiatives to address Ebola in West Africa and prevent its spread to the United States. Our members have:
- Deployed to West Africa to work with Ebola-response teams through the World Health Organization and other non-governmental organizations.
- Served as faculty for CDC training courses for clinicians deploying to West Africa, leading hands-on skills sessions on correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and transportation of patients.
To respond to critical needs in the United States, we are helping our members prepare for the potential of additional Ebola cases in this country by:
- Partnering with CDC on enhanced standards and training tools for correct donning and doffing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
- Recruiting experienced infection preventionists for teams that will provide immediate assistance for hospitals with confirmed Ebola patients.
- Recruiting experienced infection preventionists to help assess the readiness of and provide technical assistance to select Ebola Treatment Centers that are being developed through the CDC.
- Creating a repository for Ebola resources for infection preventionists on the APIC website.
- Hosting an Ebola infection prevention guidance webinar for infection preventionists on October 21 during International Infection Prevention Week.
- Serving as a resource for media reporting on Ebola.
APIC is on the highest state of alert during this critical time to assess what is needed and provide guidance in effective practices to abate a potential outbreak in the United States. As our members work diligently to provide infection prevention and control guidance to healthcare workers in their facilities, APIC stands ready to work with the government and other stakeholders to ensure the highest level of safety for nurses and other front-line caregivers who are treating Ebola patients.
APIC’s mission is to create a safer world through prevention of infection. The association’s more than 15,000 members direct infection prevention programs that save lives and improve the bottom line for hospitals and other healthcare facilities. APIC advances its mission through patient safety, implementation science, competencies and certification, advocacy, and data standardization. Visit APIC online at www.apic.org. Follow APIC on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apic and Facebook: www.facebook.com/APICInfectionPreventionandYou. For information on what patients and families can do, visit APIC’s Infection Prevention and You website at www.apic.org/infectionpreventionandyou.
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