The Pulse | Monday, May 20, 2019
A Champion for Fellow Nurses and Patients
The Infection Champions Prevention Program was established by SGNA in 2013 and provides GI nurses and associates with the information and resources they need to become a champion for infection prevention in their units.
For Diane Kouzmanoff Williford, RN CGRN, the program has been a source for self-learning and has provided the opportunity to become a point person for all things infection prevention in her unit. Williford joined the program from its inception and has enrolled in it twice.
“What I got most out of the program was being able to educate myself. Not only was I bringing education and helping the staff maintain their competencies, but I also learned from the material,” Williford says. “To have a champion in our unit meant someone was maintaining the annual competencies of scope reprocessing. Someone was the eyes and ears … to ensure processes in place were completed throughout the year and not just at annual training.”
While everyone in a GI unit should be an advocate for infection prevention, having a designated expert adds structure to the team. “When staff would have questions about infection prevention, they knew who to go to,” Williford explains. She found that being assigned as a champion was a smart way for her nurse manager to delegate responsibilities. “It's not that the nurse manager didn’t care, but they were at times less available because they were busy with so many different aspects of their job,” she said. “Being an Infection Prevention Champion allowed me to be a liaison with the staff at a different level than the manager.”
Williford discovered her participation in the Champions Program left her well-equipped to take on expanded roles, as well. As her hospital began to acquire other hospitals, Williford found she was liaising with her current staff, as well as brand new staff members from other units. She would ensure nurses and associates were completing annual training, setting up appointments for equipment reps and ensuring all written tests were taken. “It was a big undertaking,” Williford recalls. “Without having a formal program through with SGNA, the Infection Prevention Champions Program, I would have been lost in finding what information they needed to help maintain their competencies.”
No matter how many individuals a GI professional may oversee, the simple fact remains: infection prevention is a constant effort that must be treated with great care. “It’s not a one-and-done, you-did-it-for-the-year situation. This has to be ongoing. It can be so easy to become lax in what we're doing, because we're in a hurry,” Williford says. But you can’t put time restrictions on infection prevention. It has to be done thoroughly and properly.
At the end of the day, infection prevention isn’t just top of mind for GI nurses and associates — it’s on the minds of patients, too.
“Patients oftentimes ask about our scope cleaning process. We tell them we’re part of the Infection Prevention Champion Program and conduct annual education. It shows we care and we want to maintain their level of health,” Williford says.
For healthcare professionals in GI and beyond, infection prevention is a fundamental concept. While it can seem very basic on paper, it is just as equally (if not more) complex. However, with the right resources and dedication to daily practice, GI nurses and associates can be set up for success to ensure the safety of their patients.
Interested in learning more about the SGNA Infection Prevention Champions Program? Enrollment for the summer session is open through May 31, 2019. Learn more and enroll here.