Infection control team leads the way

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Southland District Health Board Southland IPC team clinical nurse specialists Susan Dillon (left) and Jane Miedema. Photo: Supplied

IT’S Infection Prevention Week (October 18-24) and the Southern District Health Board (SDHB) is celebrating the crucial role its Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) team plays in keeping patients, staff and the community safe.

The IPC team of seven had worked tirelessly during past months supporting hospitals and other settings.

“We’re always a busy team, but Covid-19 has taken our job to a whole new level,” SDHB IPC charge nurse manager Jo Stodart said.

“We’ve found ourselves in high demand as our expertise has been sought on every aspect of delivering safe care in the time of Covid-19.”

As soon as Covid-19 cases began to be reported from China, the team’s focus shifted to reviewing the pandemic response toolkit, including policies and procedures, updating education and advice, and checking if any gaps in response needed to be addressed.

A key focus was to ensure best processes were followed at every step of a person’s journey through hospital, as well as supporting primary care in the process of testing, and aged residential care with training and resources.

Staff received personal protective equipment (PPE) refresher training, mask-fitting advice, and the team supported the cleaning staff to ensure stringent IPC procedures were adhered to as part of their cleaning processes.

“Once the first case was announced in New Zealand the team had to be available seven days a week,” she said.

As control of the outbreak progressed, the team responded to the changing alert levels by refreshing the Covid-19 processes and resources to stay aligned with the national response.

The team was still busy resurgence planning for Covid-19, and re-starting work which had been put on hold. Greater IPC support to aged residential care during the next 14 months was also an exciting development.

SDHB quality and risk manager Tina Gilbertson said the leadership the team demonstrated at every call was outstanding.

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