Seattle infection preventionist named 2014 Hero of Infection Prevention

Anaheim, Calif., June 9, 2014 – The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) announced that Sara Podczervinski, RN, MPH, CIC, infection prevention practitioner at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) is a recipient of the Heroes of Infection Prevention Award, which honors infection preventionists (IPs) who have successfully reduced infection, raised awareness, and improved the health and well-being of patients, healthcare workers, and the public.

This award was given to six individuals and groups worldwide. Recipients were recognized during APIC’s 41st Annual Conference, June 7-9 in Anaheim, California.

Innovative strategies are needed for infection control and patient protection, especially with vulnerable populations. In 2007, Podczervinski developed novel ways of preventing the spread of a respiratory virus (RSV) during a major outbreak. The strategy to prevent infection was so successful that it has been duplicated by numerous other cancer centers and modified to protect patients during the 2009 H1N1 epidemic. Podczervinski has been a key player in the management and improvement of this program, as well as the education of both staff and patients.

Working with cancer patients highly susceptible to infection, Podczervinski has utilized creative means to prevent the spread of infection at the outpatient cancer clinic. Previously, only 40 percent of SCAA employees—employees who treat immunosuppressed patients—received their influenza vaccination in 2005. Therefore, Podczervinski developed strategies to increase the influenza vaccination rates among employees by creating educational lectures, holding one-on-one and online trainings, organizing mobile vaccination carts, and disseminating a video highlighting patient feelings of vulnerability to the flu. With nearly 1,500 employee vaccinations in 2013, the influenza vaccination rate improved to 97 percent during the first 6 weeks of the season. Podczervinski also raised funds to provide free vaccinations to patients and their families.

“We are proud to recognize Sara Podczervinski with this honor,” said APIC 2014 President Jennie L. Mayfield, BSN, MPH, CIC. “Her dedication to protecting the high-risk immunocompromised patients at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance is an inspiration to others. Through her leadership, she truly embodies what it means to be a Hero of Infection Prevention.”

APIC established the Heroes of Infection Prevention Award in 2006 to recognize infection preventionists who have developed and applied innovative infection prevention programs. More than 100 individuals and groups have been recognized to date for their exceptional work in reducing healthcare-associated infections.

The Heroes program is supported by a grant from BD, an APIC Strategic Partner.

APIC Annual Conference 2014, June 7-9 in Anaheim, California, is the most comprehensive infection prevention conference in the world, with more than 100 educational sessions and workshops led by infection prevention experts and attended by nearly 3,000 individuals. The conference aims to provide infection preventionists with tools and strategies that are easily adaptable and can be implemented immediately to improve prevention programs. The Twitter hashtag #APIC2014 is being used for the meeting.

About APIC
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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