We present our annual list of exceptional individuals working in infection prevention and control, as nominated by Infection Control Today magazine readers. Congratulations to these dedicated professionals who are working hard to advance the infection prevention agenda. For photos of all of the Who's Who individuals, please see the July 2010 print issue of ICT.
Terry Accuntius, RN, is manager for quality at Miami Valley Hospital (MVH) in Dayton, Ohio, has worked in infection control for 30 years, and started the infection prevention program at MVH. Janet Suttmiller, RN, MS, an infection control coordinator at MVH who says she transferred to the hospital so she could work with Accuntius, says, “She has demonstrated so much enthusiasm for infection control and has been president of local APIC twice. Terry is very active in APIC, having taught EPI 102. I have heard her lectures for the class and she is easy to understand as a teacher. It is refreshing to listen to an instructor who is also is an excellent clinician. The examples she gives related to the lecture help to make it so interesting and useable.” Suttmiller continues, “As manager of quality, Terry oversees all of the quality issues related to infection prevention and control as well as sentinel events. She has been instrumental in adapting our infection program to the many new reportable requirements for CMS and governmental bodies. Infection prevention and control continues to offer many challenges for Terry, as exemplified in our year-end reports. She is the leader of many committees and is highly respected for her knowledge by our many infectious disease physicians.”
Although Kelley Boston, MPH, CIC, is early in her career in infection prevention, nominator Yolanda Barron, a quality data analyst at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego, says Boston is establishing herself as a leader in the field. Boston is an infection preventionist with Infection Prevention and Management Associates, Inc., and currently runs the infection control program at Alvarado. Boston’s background encompasses public health, epidemiology and medical geography, something Barron says “brings a different perspective to the field than many infection preventionists.” Barron adds, “Her public health training taught her to look at the ‘big picture’ and to try and understand how it affects the individual patient. One of her major interests is the way that system change and hospital culture affect patient-level outcomes; she tries to work with front line hospital staff when developing new infection prevention interventions and feels that healthcare workers should be a significant part of designing infection control programs.” Boston believes that community health is closely tied to healthcare-associated infection and is an active participant in community infection prevention efforts. She is a member of APIC and currently serves as president of the San Diego and Imperial Counties APIC chapter. She also participates in the San Diego County Medical Society’s Group to Eradicate Resistant Microbes (GERM) and the California APIC Coordinating Council. Through APIC, she helped plan conferences in 2008 and 2009 that reached more than 400 front-line healthcare workers and infection preventionists, and volunteered to provide infection prevention education to firefighters and paramedics. In the past year, she also made several television appearances in San Diego to discuss the H1N1 pandemic and flu prevention, and is currently working on a West Nile Virus public service announcement.
Linda Cunningham, RN, CNOR, is a staff nurse in the operating room at New England Baptist Hospital (NEBH) in Boston and also is the infection control liaison for the OR. Nominator Maureen Spencer, RN, MEd, CIC, infection control manager at NEBH, says, “Linda has been intimately involved with the successful MRSA and Staph aureus eradication program, OR aseptic technique and hand hygiene campaigns, OR environmental rounds, monitoring transmission-based precautions during surgery, standardization of post-op dressings and several infection control investigations. She has been a co-author on four infection-related abstracts at AORN, NAON and APIC. Linda is a ‘mad dog’ when it comes to fighting infection and maintaining AORN standards in our hospital. She collaborates closely with the infection control team and provides vital information to the committee. She presents the annual infection control competencies for OR staff and is viewed by her peers as the OR expert in infection prevention.”
Rabih O. Darouiche, MD, is a VA Distinguished Service Professor and the director of the Center for Prostheses Infection at the Michael E. Debakey VAMC and Baylor College of Medicine. Nominator Martin Grabois, MD, professor and chairman of the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, says that Darouiche “has made remarkable contributions in the field of preventing various healthcare-acquired infections.” Grabois continues, “He was the first author on two prospective, randomized, multicenter clinical trials that were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and have affected the standard of care practices for prevention of catheter-related bloodstream infections and surgical site infections. On a national level, Dr. Darouiche is also the founder and director of the Multidisciplinary Alliance Against Device-Related Infections (MADRI) which holds an annual meeting to foster education, research, and better quality of care. Internationally renowned for his work on infection prevention, Dr. Darouiche has given more than 60 lectures overseas.”
Debbie DeMarce, MT (ASCP), CIC, the infection preventionist at Kingman Regional Medical Center (KRMC) in Kingman, Ariz. has been instrumental in implementing innovative programs that have produced very positive results, according to her nominator, Eileen Pressler, RN, CPHQ, CCM, director of quality management at the center. Pressler explains that DeMarce developed a comprehensive education program after noticing an increase in hospital-acquired Clostridium difficile: “She took a simple blue surgical cap, created a sticker that reminds staff to use soap and water for hand hygiene, and taught staff to place the cap over the alcohol hand sanitizer in every room if a patient had diarrhea.” Pressler adds that DeMarce’s education efforts have been “a major moving force behind the increase in staff influenza immunization.” Pressler adds, “After recognizing a need for the five hospitals in our geographically large county to communicate issues and share needs, she organized a county-wide meeting of infection preventionists that has now become a quarterly event. Debbie is mentoring other infection preventionists in their efforts to become certified. Her efforts don’t end at the hospital level. She recognized the need for community education and approached the volunteers with an idea to purchase a costume for a character that could be a mascot for KRMC. Now we have the KRMC Kare Bear who makes appearances at local schools and community events to promote hand hygiene and provide fun education about infection prevention. Debbie’s passion about infection prevention is catching ... and that’s the way she likes it!”
Jeff F. Gephart, MD, FACP, is an infectious diseases specialist who also chairs Marquette General Health System’s infection control committee. Nominator Sally Achatz, RN, director of central supply at Marquette General Hospital says that during the last influenza season, both H1N1 and seasonal, Gephart was “an integral partner” in the planning and activation of the health system’s response to the crisis. Achatz adds, “During the peak flu season, the H1N1 committee met almost daily for several weeks. Dr. Gephart gave sound advice and helped to develop and activate the health system’s response to the emergency. He remained level-headed and helped to initiate the steps necessary to expertly manage the difficulties encountered. Dr. Gephart is invaluable any time there are questions or concerns related to infection prevention and control within the health system. He can be counted on to deliver reasonable suggestions that are well-grounded in current infectious disease practices. Although his recommendations may sometimes be unpopular, the advice Dr. Gephart gives is sound and scientifically based. He has been at the forefront of infection prevention at Marquette General Health System for over 15 years.”
Katherine Rhodes, RN, BSN, COHN-S, CIC, infection prevention coordinator at Texas Health Southwest, on behalf of the Texas Health Resources infection preventionists, gives a shout-out to Edward Goodman, MD, the infection prevention physician advisor at Texas Health Resources, which has 14 facilities and serves patients in 16 counties in north-central Texas. As Rhodes explains, “A practicing infectious disease physician with decades of experience and contacts at the national level, Dr. Goodman has elevated the practice of infection prevention within our system and with our community partners. He is the calm and rational voice for our 22 infection preventionists to our executive leadership. A strong advocate of evidence-based practice, he has supported numerous initiatives within the system to address current issues in infection prevention. He has a wonderful sense of humor and is always quick to recognize the work of others. Our team has been recognized with a quality award for the reduction of healthcare-associated infections over the past three years.” Rhodes continues, “ Our VAP and CLABSI cases have become rare events and nosocomial MRSA has declined steadily at all entities. Hand hygiene and influenza vaccination rates have climbed dramatically through the efforts of the council. Dr. Goodman challenges us continually to evaluate additional opportunities for improvement. It is an honor and privilege to work with him on a daily basis.”
Cynthia Hutchinson, RN, has been employed by HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital Central and North for more than 15 years and has served as the infection preventionist for HealthSouth Rehab North, in Memphis, Tenn. for the past 10 years. “Cindi is excellent in her job,” says nominator Gwendolyn Webb, RN, MS, director of quality and case management at HealthSouth Rehab, North. Hutchinson is a member of the local and national APIC. She is a resource for the Mid Atlantic HealthSouth region for expertise in infection prevention and has trained several new infection prevention staff. She is a member of the hospital QA, safety and patient satisfaction committees. “Cindi is responsible for infection prevention policies/procedures and education for our patients and staff,” Webb adds. “She not only trained the staff but is consulted by the medical staff to handle any potential infectious issues. Her professional opinion is respected and valued by all team members. Cindi makes frequent environmental rounds throughout the hospital where she observes staff, patients and medical staff in their daily activities. Cindi makes learning fun and interactive. The hospital’s overall infection rate for 2009 was 1.71 percent. This small rate is attributed to Cindi’s knowledge and tenacity. We are very fortunate to have such a highly motivated and loyal employee.”
Sheila Koskey, RN, BSN, CIC, has worked at the Williamsport Hospital and Medical Center, part of the Susquehanna Health System in Williamsport, Pa. since 1984 as the director of infection prevention and control, and obtained her certification in infection control and epidemiology in 1987. She has served as APIC president for both the Wichita Area and East Central Pennsylvania chapters. In her 25-plus years at Williamsport, she has demonstrated her ability to involve clinical staff on the front lines of infection prevention. According to her nominator, Keith St. John, MS, CIC, an infection prevention consultant with BD Diagnostics, “It has been her philosophy to integrate the expertise of the clinical team with the expertise of the infection preventionist in order to drive improvement in patient outcomes. Some of her recent successes include a reduction of UTIs by 41 percent; 25 months of zero VAPs; a 55 percent decrease in CLABSIs within the first year, and by the fourth year into the initiative, they achieved zero CLABSIs for the past six months; finally, post-operative pneumonia (non-ventilator related) was decreased by 50 percent.” St. John adds, “ Sheila has maintained high efficiency and productivity not by adding additional human resources in her department. Instead, she has implemented cost-effective electronic technology that provides her team with real time data and analysis that focuses on process measurement and patient outcomes. The patients at the Williamsport Hospital and Medical Center owe Sheila and her team a debt of gratitude for keeping them safe from harm.”
Tracy Kruse, RN, is director of nursing at the Tucson Orthopaedic Surgery Center. In her role for the past year, she has established an infection prevention and control program that audits for the following items: cleaning-product wet times (changed over an entire hospital’s product usage based on evaluating wet times for bacterial and virucidal effectiveness); hand hygiene (increased staff compliance from 78 percent to 92 percent in a six-month period); and implementing cleaning protocols, structure and accountability. Kruse also established quality improvement benchmarking programs to determine the efficacy of the facility’s infection control processes, and established effective tracking and reduction of surgical site infections. She established certification requirements for the center’s sterile processing personnel as well as esetablished and serves as chair of the center’s infection prevention and control committee within the facility. Kruse’s efforts extend to the community, where she established an externship program for scrub techs/CSTs and volunteers on the advisory board at a local college, assisting them with creating educational infection control programs. She also conducts in-servicing for staff and students at her daughter’s school, teaching the importance of proper hand hygiene.
Liz Martino, BS, MT(ASCP), MBA, CIC, is an infection control practitioner at Roger Williams Medical Center in Providence, R.I. Joanne Dooley, vice president of patient care services and the chief nursing officer, emphasizes that in less than two years, Martino has been integral to improving infection control education and training for staff, patients, and families at Roger Williams. Among her accomplishments are a monthly infection control staff newsletter which was especially helpful for H1N1 education; an infection control Web site for internal and external audiences; patient and family information sheets with the latest information on infection control; and has served as a contributor to more than a dozen internal and external committees, including the Infection Control Professionals of Southern New England. Dooley calls Martino’s dedication to her field “tireless,” while Nancy Fogarty, director of quality, says, “Having Liz on the Roger Williams’ team has lifted the quality and performance improvement bar of the organization to new heights.” Yoram Puius, MD, PhD, of the Department of Infection Control, observes, “Liz brought infection control properly into the 21st century, using modern information technology tools to turn all of our statistics into clearly understandable graphs and charts. She also set up strong relationships with many departments to make sure they understood what these numbers meant to them, and how they could be used to improve patient care.”
Rob Medlock, risk manager at Central State Hospital in Louisville, Ky., says that Brenda Matlock is an exceptional infection preventionist, explaining, “Brenda has been in her position for approximately three years after serving as a nurse manager in the organization for 10 years. Nursing’s loss was my gain. She has revitalized the infection control/employee health department and begun some innovations that will be benchmarked throughout the community.” Medlock continues, “She implemented a new continuing education program with an emphasis on infection control and disease prevention. She completely overhauled the employee health tracking system, which was noted by our recent, and very successful, Joint Commission survey as ‘excellent.’ She has been at the forefront in dealing with H1N1 influenza preparedness and emergency planning. She spearheaded the fit-testing of line staff on the N-95 respirators. She set up cleaning regimes for medical equipment to prevent cross contamination. Her networking in the community, to include state and local health departments, provides the hospital with resources for both training and program implementation.”
Jennifer McElroy RN, CNOR, is an infection preventionist at Missoula Bone and Joint Surgery Center (MBJSC) in Missoula, Mont. “She has for a long time been known as the person at MBJSC who is always fighting those ‘nasty germs’ and making us all think about what we are doing,” says nominator Karla Schiever, RN, CNOR, RNFA, ONC, the clinical manager at MBJSC. “When the new CMS guidelines came through, I asked her for help with the infection control part of the new requirements. She came through and not only helped but took on the whole program for our ASC. Jen then went on to take the infection control examination to become our infection control program director. She has studied and taken on the challenge of taking the test from APIC to become certified as an infection control nurse on her own. She regularly provides updates and education for our staff, and we appreciate all of her efforts.”
Nancy Mendicino is director of infection prevention and control at Christus Santa Rosa Hospital, and has worked in infection control for more than 25 years. She is the director of all five facilities in the San Antonio/New Braunfels, Texas region. Nominator Fernando Flores, RN, a colleague in infection prevention, notes, “In the time I have worked with her, she has helped in educating staff, managers, new nurses and infection preventionists. She is also a resource person for other departments such as environmental services and radiology. Nancy also oversees a large number of ongoing studies on SSIs, VAP, and CLABSIs, and she is instrumental in promptly intervening to control MDRO outbreaks in our facilities. Lastly, her caring nature is unprecedented. Her character and passion for helping others is inspiring to all who know and work with her. For example, when others are ready to leave for the day, if Nancy identifies a situation which requires attention, even if not directly her responsibility, she goes out of her way to stay as late as necessary for resolution. She does whatever is possible to help families stay in contact with each other when the patient is in isolation precautions. She is a credit to our institution and I feel privileged to work with her.”
“When I first met Shawn at a Greater Omaha APIC meeting in 2000, I knew she would some day be a leader in infection prevention,” says Sharon Medcalf, RN, associate director of the Center for Preparedness Education in the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Neb. “Over the past 10 years, I have had the pleasure of watching Shawn accomplish many goals, including graduating with her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing. She is currently pursuing a PhD with a passion for self-directed learning that is unmatched by any of her colleagues. She has served our Greater Omaha APIC chapter as president, treasurer and as a member of the nominations committee. She took on all of these responsibilities with vigor and enthusiasm. This is where her leadership skills were developed and sustained. In 2008 Shawn was named one of APIC Heroes of Infection Prevention.” Medcalf points to research as another passion: “In the past four years, Shawn has had three podium presentations, one poster presentation and published a research article in AJIC. Shawn became a member of the APIC EPI faculty in 2008 and has presented at the national APIC conference as well. Shawn made a promotional move to Kansas City and thus the Greater Kansas City APIC Chapter in July, when she accepted the position of manager of the infection prevention and control department at the University of Kansas Hospital. Shawn’s career path has included long-term care, critical access hospitals, a community hospital and now an academic medical center.”
Cora Musial, MD, is an infectious disease physician at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, Ill. and medical director of the facility’s infection control services department. Nominator Eva Palmer, RN, BA, an infection preventionist at the hospital, characterizes Musial as “a very compassionate and committed infection preventionist.” Palmer adds, “Dr. Musial works long hours taking great care of her patients, both ambulatory and in-patient, while always making it a priority to save time to guide and consult the infection control services department. It is a pleasure working for and with Dr. Musial.”
Brenda Helms, RN, BSN, MBA/HCM, the infection preventionist and employee health coordinator at The Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas, says that Kim Newman, BSN, CIC, has served as an invaluable mentor. “She has served as president of our local APIC chapter and currently leads a special interest group that focuses on NHSN definitions,” Helms explains. “She is a wealth of information and always ready to share with anyone who is in need. She is a devoted educator for the hospital staff; she does not just tell them this is the way it should be done she, takes the extra time to do staff education for all shifts to make sure that they understand why we are asking them to do certain things. By doing this her staff has taken ownership of their part in the infection control program. This has led to many successes, such as elimination of central line-associated bloodstream infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia. She continues to mentor anyone who is in need and always takes the time to teach new ICPs. She is a true asset to the infection control world.”
Karen Otto, RN, is the infection control manager for Brown County Regional Healthcare in Georgetown, Ohio. Belle Cord, RN, CNOR, CRNFA, director of perioperative services, says, “Karen is outstanding in her diligence and duty to infection prevention. She is ever mindful of the importance of prevention of hospital-acquired infections, and constantly keeps everyone informed about important issues and techniques. As the director of perioperative services in a small community-based acute-care hospital, I am in constant contact with Karen regarding preventing infections associated with OR procedures. She is our lifeline here, and our low infection rate shows that we have a ‘keeper’ in that position.”
Gwen Stewart, RN, BSN, is an infection control practitioner also working in employee health at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. John Govednik at McGuckin Methods International says that Stewart has contributed at the local and national levels in infection prevention practice with hand hygiene compliance. “At Sibley Memorial Hospital, she works with the team responsible for introducing a multimodal compliance program, building on support from key leadership in nursing and executive administration to bring about a comprehensive team-oriented approach to hand hygiene education and measurement, and feedback,” Govednik says. “Because monitoring hand hygiene required cooperation from environmental services, Gwen asked what their key hurdle might be and a supervisor responded, ‘Getting staff to wash their hands!’ thus Gwen and the team were able to expand infection control accountability to many stakeholders at the hospital. Gwen represented Sibley’s program at APIC in Ft. Lauderdale. Whereas many speakers come with PowerPoints and hand-outs, Gwen came with a bag full of visual aids including T-shirts, signs, and other creative hand hygiene promotional items to address the pressure of hand hygiene compliance with creativity and enthusiasm.”
Vicki Sweeney, RN, is the infection preventionist at Williamson Medical Center in Franklin, Tenn. As nominator Cassie Davenport BSN, RN, CPHQ, director of patient safety and quality, explains, “She has only been in her position since September 2009, but in that short time she has led the hospital staff to a new understanding of infection prevention and control. Through innovative campaigns that have included FBI (Fighting Bacterial Infections) Man and Mrs. A (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) with her crystal ball, Vicki continues to educate staff members in ways they won’t soon forget. She has directed many hand hygiene campaigns and supplies unit specific data for the staff to know how they are doing. In the brief time in her role, she has revised infection prevention policies to assure they are evidence based. Vicki has developed numerous education tools for the staff and supervisors. She is currently working on a project to assist those who clean equipment know which product is to be used on which piece of equipment. She goes beyond what is required in her role to assure that the staff have the tools they need to perform their jobs as it related to infection control She works closely with the hospital epidemiologist to assure that patient in her facility receive safe, quality care.”
Lt. Col. Maryanne Yip serves as the U.S. Air Force Surgeon General’s chief consultant in infection control and is the subject-matter expert providing leadership and coordination of infection prevention and control programs in 74 active duty Air Force medical facilities worldwide, including Air Reserve Units, Air National Guard Medical Groups, Aeromedical Evacuation (AE) Units, and deployed units such as the medical units in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nominator Kim Neiman, RN, MPH, CIC, director of infection prevention and control at Renown Regional Medical Center, says that Yip collaborated in the development of infection control inspection criteria and a standardized deployment infection control orientation checklist for new arrivals to generate a heightened awareness of medical personnel of the basic techniques to prevent and control infections during peacetime and wartime operations. “Providing oversight of three infection control courses, Lt. Col. Yip developed curriculum to instruct new infection preventionists to develop and maintain an infection control program based on their unit’s unique mission in a variety of contingencies,” says Neiman. “Continuing to coordinate the Air Force’s participation in the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), Lt. Col. Yip collects the data that reflects the military’s unique patient population. In 2009, at the third annual Asia-Pacific Military Nursing Symposium in Viet Nam, Lt. Col. Yip presented “The Nursing Role in Pandemic Influenza Planning’ and along with the World Health Organization was a reviewer of the first-ever Ministry of Health Medical Services Administration, Viet Nam’s National Injection Safety Guidelines.”