Exploring Strategies Into Environmental Pathogen Control and Patient-Centered Care


Danielle Zerr, MD, MPH, explains her presentations at SHEA 2024 about strategies for environmental pathogen control, the significance of patient-centered care in health care settings, and respiratory viruses in pediatric settings.

Facilities require innovative strategies and key insights to handle challenges, promote patient—and family-centered care, and mitigate environmental risks. In pediatric settings, it is also important to have infection control measures that are centered around the family.

These are 2 topics for presentations at the Society of Epidemiology of America (SHEA) in Houston, Texas, held from April 16 to 19, 2024.

To discuss these presentations and more, Danielle Zerr (“Zair”), MD, MPH, spoke to Infection Control Today® (ICT®). She is the division head and professor of pediatric infectious diseases and adjunct professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine; affiliate investigator at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; and medical director of infection prevention at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

She will present “Reducing The Risk of Environmental Pathogens: Strategies for Environmental Surveillance and Enhanced Cleaning within Healthcare Settings” and “Family-Centered Infection Control Precautions for Respiratory Viruses in Pediatric Settings“ at the Society of Epidemiology of America (SHEA) in Houston, Texas, held from April 16 to 19, 2024.

“I will be focusing on environmental pathogens within health care settings,” Zerr told ICT. “And I decided to sort of focus the talk on 3 different types of environmental areas. So environmental surfaces, water, and air. And I'll talk about the organisms that might exist in those spaces that can cause infection in humans, and then what we might do to mitigate the risk to patients.”

Baby visiting a pediatric facility  (Adobe Stock 448959249 by Rawpixel.com)

Baby visiting a pediatric facility

(Adobe Stock 448959249 by Rawpixel.com)

Zerr continued, “If we take, for example, water. What I do during the talk is recognize the importance of Legionella and certain resistant gram-negative bacterial organisms like Pseudomonas. And these are organisms that can carry significant morbidity and mortality in our patients, especially immunocompromised hosts. And regarding mitigation, I'll talk about the importance of having a water management program and plan. We'll review the strategies around mitigating the risk of problems that might arise as you're performing surveillance following the plan of your water management program. And then also, I'll talk about mitigating the risk of splashback that happens with sinks and health care settings.”

For her second presentation on respiratory viruses in pediatric settings, Zerr said, "I will be reviewing the history, the goals, and the requirements for patient or family-centered care and the importance of family-centered care; there are many benefits that have been shown with family and patient-centered care,”

However, there is "an inherent little bit of conflict between those 2 things because patient-centered care calls for flexibility whenever possible, Zerr explained. "Sometimes, in the interest of keeping everyone safe, infection can be prevented, and we tend to like our rules. So, I'll be exploring those opportunities where we can really practice family-centered care and patient-centered care.”

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