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Wednesday, 11 May 2011 20:40

Cypress to have more infection control practitioner, make facilities safer

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By Chris Jaster — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Trent Regier feels like he’ll start to become a little more comfortable at work.

Regier, Cypress Health Region’s director of rural health, is currently the region’s only infection control practitioner.

Regier is the only person in the region trained to study illnesses, analyze data to trend infections that occur in hospitals after admission and to lead a crew to combat outbreaks in facilities.

There was always a concern in Regier’s mind about what happens when he is away and what would happen if he were ever to leave the region.

“Anytime you put all your eggs in one basket that can cause you grief because if I do something different, then who has that knowledge or if I was to leave the organization then the organization starts from scratch,” he said. “For me, it’s one of the most uncomfortable parts of my job is a lot of weight fell on my shoulders being the only one.”

That, however, is all about to change. The Cypress Health Region received some funding from the Ministry of Health for infection control. It’s putting the money toward training six public health inspectors. Jeff Schwan, the new director of occupational and public health will be also be trained in infection control.

The group will take the introductory infection control practitioner course online and will eventually write an exam to get fully certified.

Anyone with para-medical experience may become an ICP. The region selected the public health inspectors because they volunteered as they are at all of the health region’s facilities on a regular basis.

With eight infection control practitioners in the region — the most of any region in Saskatchewan of similar in size to Cypress –– Regier and the other ICPs will be focused on eliminating infections that occur after admission into a health-care facility, decreasing the surgical site infections to zero and continuing the decrease the length of outbreaks in the region’s facilities.

“When I first started with the health region, our outbreaks were lasting 21 days,” said Regier. “We’re down to seven. We’re hoping we can lower that number and ideally we can get rid of all outbreaks. When you work in health care that may not be a reality, but it’s a goal we’re working toward.”

The new group of infection control practitioners will do that by tracking movements in and out of infected rooms and around the facility during an outbreak. They will remind staff how often and how to wash their hands properly as well as working with physicians so they know what is going on and so they can give feedback.

“The more resources we have, the faster we can get around to our facilities to do education as things change,” said Regier. “The more resources we have, the more we can brainstorm. It’s amazing when you sit down with a group of people for goals and common ideas you can brainstorm and you implement that and it makes a huge difference.

“For example, a few years ago, we were struggling with a few outbreaks so we brought in the medical health officer from Five Hills just to bring in that extra perspective. Our medical health officer was there and he said to us ‘Have you thought about your staff rooms?’ and we said that’s not an area we focus on. So we went into the facility and cleaned all the staff rooms and the outbreak was over in two days.”

The new infection control practitioners will also be working closely with the designs of the new integrated facilities in Maple Creek and Leader to make sure they are built in a way that won’t allow diseases to spread from one area of the facility to another.

Although there are all these plans in place, patients may not notice much change at all. Not only are the infection control practitioners working behind-the-scenes, they won’t get their official designations until next April.

That’s fine with Regier, however, as he knows the region is working to make his life easier and help the residents of the region.

“We’re excited,” he said. “We’re making great strides in infection control. We know there’s more work to do and we’re going to have the proper people in place to do it.”

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