Importance of infection control during the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how most of us live and work.

Within a health care setting there is no job that hasn’t felt that change. Keeping all staff, physicians and patients safe and well has remained a top priority in the face of so many new challenges.

One team has been leading the safety charge at Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH). The Infection Prevention and Control team (IPAC) has been on the frontline of prevention and safety throughout the pandemic. Their role is to plan, develop, implement, coordinate and evaluate system-wide infection prevention and control measures. The team is comprised of experts at preventing and controlling hospital-associated infections (HAIs).

Infection Control Practitioners (ICPs) come from multiple health care backgrounds and are certified by the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology. ICPs are trained in disease surveillance, microbiology, adult education, medical devices sterilization, construction in health care as well as risk assessment.

From educating patients and staff on the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), proper hand hygiene practices, mask protocols and physical distancing to creating sustainable infection control practices, this team has worked with all departments and teams throughout the hospital to ensure infection control.  As the pandemic has progressed and new information has come to light, the MSH IPAC team had developed new protocols and ensured all staff and patients are educated and safe.

One of the key strategies to reduce the risk of infections is to promote hand hygiene throughout the organisation.  This has become even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic.  From signs hung around the hospital to the placement of alcohol-based hand sanitizer dispensers at key locations, the IPAC team at MSH has ensured that hand hygiene is always top of mind for both staff and patients.

The role of the IPAC team at MSH has expanded outside of the hospital walls as well by offering their expertise to local long term care facilities with COVID -19 planning and education.  The team is sharing their knowledge to make sure they protect our vulnerable seniors, keeping them safe and out of the hospital.

 

Photo: ICP auditing for proper infection control practices at MSH. Story by Sarah Wilson.

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