For effective communication, infection preventionists and construction crews must understand each other's professional terminology. A resource tracer can be developed to ensure that both teams communicate the proper completion of work.
During construction or renovation, it's important to keep infection prevention and control (IPC) in mind. Infection preventionists (IPs) rely on the Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) process to minimize and mitigate environmental disturbances. However, in a 4-hospital and ambulatory clinic system, there wasn’t a standardized tool for auditing and providing feedback on construction sites. This presents an opportunity to improve and implement best practices to maintain a safe and healthy environment for patients and staff.
Mona Shah, MPH, CIC, FAPIC, Construction IP for Northshore Healthcare System, Skokie, Illinois, discussed her poster at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) 2023 Annual Conference and Exhibition, held in Orlando, Florida, June 26 to 28, 2023, with Infection Control Today® (ICT®). The poster, coauthored with Ruby Mathew, MPH, CIC, an IP at Northshore Healthcare System, was titled “Making Construction Compliance Visible: Developing a Joint Commission Resources Tracer for Infection Prevention Mitigation Measures During Construction.”
Shah described how the infection prevention team and the construction team worked together. “[The construction team] took me [around]. I spent 2 days in a boiler room to see where it's at; 2 days in where all the big HVAC system is. Not knowing everything, [it was] difficult to ask the questions initially [because] I was not sure what questions to ask because I was not aware of what was going on… [the construction team] also understand the patient safety is important here.”
Shah also spoke of the challenge of learning the “language of the construction” crew in the interview. She said her position as construction infection preventionist helps “enable the effective communication with the contractor and the [infection] project manager.
“I understand now the construction terminology, the process, and the safety measure, which is very important when you have an infection or infection prevention requirements [like] identifying potential risk and ensuring the compliance during the construction specifically in the hospital setting. This knowledge enhances the ability to implement the appropriate measure and safeguard and promotes safety and reduces any health care-associated infections,” Shah said.
(Quotes have been edited for clarity.)
See all ICT’s APIC2023 Coverage here.