By Linda Lybert
Healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) continue to be a challenge for healthcare professionals today. Despite increased attention to infection control protocol and increased focus on personal protection there has not been any sustainable reductions in the spread of infection. This leaves healthcare workers, patients and the general public continually at risk.
Existing and ongoing research continues to reveal the complexity of the problem with a link to two elements of the problem in all the re-search. Surfaces and the human interaction with various surfaces support the microbial growth and transmission. To realize a sustainable reduction in the spread of infection these two elements need to be clearly understood and addressed.
Healthcare professionals have ongoing discussions about the surfaces issue. Depending on the professional area of expertise there are different recommendations and guidelines for addressing the problem. Unfortunately, these recommendations often conflict with regulator requirements and existing protocols. Today, professionals continue to struggle to realize a sustainable reduction in the number of HAIs.
Solutions can be found by bringing together professionals in all areas of expertise including; microbiology, infection prevention, facilities, ad-ministration, nursing, research, technology, manufacturing and regulating agencies to gain a comprehensive understanding of the much larger surfaces problem.
The Healthcare Surfaces Summit is doing that. A cutting-edge collaborative effort co-founded by Healthcare Surface Consulting and the University of Arizona has begun with a 15-member advisory board comprised of multidisciplinary experts and thought leaders who have developed a mission to; “Reduce preventable infections through collaboration of industry, science, regulatory, and service sectors by interrupting the transmission of surface related pathogens in healthcare in support of community health.”
In October the 15-member Advisory Board convened for the first time to gain a comprehensive understanding of the surfaces issue and develop workgroups that will work throughout the year to gain further understanding of all surfaces issues.
The summit kicked off with each advisory board member presenting a 15-minute lightening talk focused on their individual area of expertise answering the following three questions:
• What are the top three issues?
• What are the hurdles to success?
• What action should be taken immediately?
These lightening talks provided great insight into the big picture and helped in the creation of three workgroups that will work throughout the year to gain further insight into specific areas:
• Standardization and utilization
• Education and training
Their findings will be reported back to the Advisory Board at the 2016 Healthcare Surfaces Summit which will be held October of 2016.
With the goal of collaboration and no duplication the members of the Advisory Board and workgroup participants will work to collaborate with industry professional organizations and other professionals. By providing a foundation for collaboration. The goal is to support current efforts and provide additional insight into to address areas that currently are not being addressed.
Healthcare Surfaces advisory board members are:
• Dr. Charles Gerba, professor at the University of Arizona
• Douglas Erickson, CEO of Facilities Guidelines Institute
• Caroline Etland, director of education, research and professional practice at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center in San Diego
• Darrel Hicks, author and trainer and environmental cleaning and disinfection subject matter expert
• John LaRochelle, Facilities Offer Development and Deployment with Sodexo USA
• Amber Hogan Mitchell, president and CEO of the International Safety Center
• Linda Lybert, healthcare surface expert and president of Healthcare Surface Consulting
• Marcia Patrick, infection prevention consultant and surveyor for Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care
• Kelly Reynolds, associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Arizona Zuckerman College of Public Health, and director of the Environment, Exposure Science and Risk Assessment Center
• Dr. Rodney E. Rohde, chair and professor of the Clinical Laboratory Science Program at Texas State and Associate Dean for Research at the College of Public Health Profession
• Dr. Bill Rutala, director of Hospital Epidemiology, Occupational Health and Safety Program at the University of North Carolina Hospitals and a Research Professor for the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine
• Syed Sattar, professor emeritus of microbiology, University of Ottawa
• Glenda Schuh, infection prevention and occupational health consultant
Linda Lybert is a healthcare surface expert and president of Healthcare Surface Consulting.