Karen Hoffmann, MS, RN, CIC, FSHEA, FAPIC, will be honored with the Carole DeMille Achievement Award during the 2023 APIC conference in Orlando, Florida, held June 26 to 28, 2023. She also discusses the poster she will be presenting.
The most prestigious honor the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) gives is the Carole DeMille Achievement Award, which is presented at APIC’s Annual Conference. For 2023, Karen Hoffmann, MS, RN, CIC, FSHEA, FAPIC, University of North Carolina School of Medicine Chapel Hill, North Carolina, will receive it during the conference in Orlando, Florida, June 26 to 28, 2023. The award celebrates a lifetime of achievements and honors an APIC infection preventionist (IP) member who has advanced the practice and profession of infection prevention and control (IPC).
Hoffmann spoke with Infection Control Today® (ICT®) about her award and her poster at the 2023 APIC conference.
Hoffmann is a highly respected leader and member of APIC who has dedicated over 40 years to the field of IPC. Her research and guidance have made a significant impact on the industry, benefiting countless IPs. Hoffmann's outbreak investigations and published findings have influenced infection prevention and control (IPC) practices at a national level. Her work in 1989 prompted the CDC to conduct a review of endoscope cleaning processes, leading to an increased focus on reprocessing medical devices and patient care instruments by accrediting organizations. Hoffmann has also established evidence-based training programs and IPC resources across various healthcare settings, educating many IPs.
Hoffmann is a highly regarded lecturer nationally and internationally and was named ICT's first-ever IP Educator of the Year in 1999.
ICT: Congratulations! How did you find out, and what did you think when you learned you’d won?
Karen Hoffmann, MS, RN, CIC, FSHEA, FAPIC: The tradition at APIC is that the APIC President will call and notify the person who is receiving the Carol DeMille Award. When I saw [Patricia] Jackson’s, the 2023 APIC president's name on an incoming call, I felt my heart do an extra beat. Of course, I was thrilled and full of gratitude to be chosen for this prestigious award that recognizes my 40+ years of service and contributions to the IPC field.
ICT: Please summarize your APIC poster.
KH: As I am now a well-seasoned IP, I have moved to being a fulltime consultant. In that role, I can pick what I am most passionate about to do to move the profession forward. And at the top of that list is preventing the number of causes of HAIs [health care-associated infections] for central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI), [Possible ventilator-associated pneumonia/ventilator-associated event], and [surgical site infection], which is Staphylococcus aureus. This year at APIC, I have the privilege of lecturing at an industry-sponsored symposium on the use of nasal decolonization as a strategy to protect all patients by decreasing the risk of colonization and subsequent HAIs from [staphylococcal infections] and other pathogens found in the nose.
ICT: What is the one thing you hope attendees walk away knowing?
KH: The one thing I would like attendees to walk away knowing is [that] we have come a long way in using evidence-based guidelines. But we must keep trying new strategies to move the needle on preventing HAIs. Post-pandemic, we have seen the biggest increases in [National Healthcare Safety Network]-reported HAIs rates. The IPC basics we have been using for 50 years, hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfection, and transmission-based precautions, are all reliant on HCP compliance. A new, more effective strategy to add to these basic control measures is to essentially eliminate the reservoir by universal nasal decolonization for all patients.
ICT: Taking a step back, what is the biggest challenge facing IPs right now, and how can it be overcome?
KH: It is hard to pick just one challenge facing IPs today. I would say for the IP in the hospital, nursing homes, or other care settings, the biggest challenge is the financial pressure facing our healthcare facilities as we are coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. IPs have the important responsibility of preventing HAIs facility-wide but have little official power to make decisions that can make that happen. They have an ongoing challenge of building consensus in implementing HAI prevention strategies and doing it without any additional costs.
ICT: What are you most excited about this year’s APIC meeting?
KH: What I am most excited about is what I am always excited about: attending the APIC Annual Educational Conference and seeing everyone. The APIC Annual Conference is like a reunion for me to see and hear about the latest research and activities from my IP colleagues, many of whom are also close friends, and to network with new people from around the US and the world.