The Pulse | Thursday, January 23, 2020
The Importance of Infection Prevention and Becoming an Advocate
My name is Lisa Brown and I am a gastroenterology (GI) technician that has worked in GI for 16 years. I recently became the quality and education coordinator of endoscopy at the University of Virginia Health System, an academic health care center. Before making the change to GI, I worked in nursing homes — which I thought was my calling and passion — and in orthopedics. Realizing I wanted to become more involved with the outcome of the patient, I transferred to the endoscopy unit. After about 10 years working in the department, I once again wanted to shift my focus on something different to help my patients.
Endoscope reprocessing was one of my least favorite jobs to do in the unit, but I realized it was one of the most important. I studied to become certified in endoscope reprocessing through the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution (CBSPD). Through my studies, I realized just how important endoscope reprocessing was for the patients. It truly is the most important job in the unit.
A few months later, my mentor Irene Rader, AND RN CGRN, introduced me to the SGNA Infection Prevention Champions Program. I looked into the program, became familiar with it and decided I wanted to be part of this unique program. I wanted to learn how to protect my patients even more. At the time, I did not have the backing of our leadership to enroll in the program, due to lack of knowledge of SGNA (only a few staff members knew about the organization). Irene and I decided to form an endoscope reprocessing task force to identify issues within our department. Sometime later, our leadership changed. Cathy Bauer, MSN MBA CGRN CFER, came on board as the director of our endoscopy unit.
Being involved with SGNA for many years and a former GI nurse and tech, Cathy encouraged me to become involved with the program. She chose me to be the Infection Prevention (IP) Champion in our unit. We set our goals to educate the staff of the risk of endoscope infections and had vendors perform in-services. This task force grew into an infection prevention committee that not only focuses on endoscope reprocessing, but every aspect of the GI unit dealing with infection prevention.
I became certified through the International Association of Health Care Central Service Materiel Management (IACSHMM) for endoscope reprocessing. I attended conferences to learn more about endoscope reprocessing and infection prevention. By doing this, I heard stories from patients and family members and have seen what these deadly infections can do. This program has given me the foundation to educate myself on how to protect patients, reduce the transmission of an infection and to even provide comfort to someone.
So, once again, I came to a crossroad: What did I want to do for the rest of my career? I thought about many options, and came to the conclusion that every GI professional makes colorectal cancer awareness a priority, but who advocates for the patients to prevent infections? With this thought, I decided to enroll in college to obtain my bachelor’s degree in public health. I finished all coursework in December 2019 and will officially walk the stage for graduation in May 2020.
Using my degree, my infection prevention foundation and my experience with the SGNA Infection Prevention Champions Program, I can educate the patients, public and health care workers on the importance of preventing infections and their deadly outcome in the GI setting. I encourage every GI facility to become involved with the SGNA Infection Prevention Champions Program. The resources supplied will be beneficial to their patients, facility and to the members involved — giving them peace of mind they helped someone.