LTC Infection Preventionists’ Responsibilities Have Doubled Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Conference | <b>Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC)</b>

In all areas, infection preventionists took on more responsibilities and expanded the ones they already had, including staff education and employee health.

Using information from demographic surveys that Infection preventionists has completed previously, a group of investigators from The University of Michigan studied how long-term infection preventionists’ (IPs’) roles have changed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. What they found surprised them because the IPs’ roles had increased dramatically.

The lead author of the study, Karen M Jones, MPH, RN, CIC, FAPIC, clinical research project coordinator, The University of Michigan in Rochester Hills, Michigan, presented their study at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) 2022 Annual Conference, held June 13-15, 2022, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Jones discussed their presentation titled, A Whole New World: Changes in the Nursing Home Infection Preventionist Role in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic” with Infection Control Today® (ICT®) at the conference.

“Everything has changed so much,” Jones told ICT® about the IPs' responsibilities. “One thing that we did want to highlight in this research is that with all of those changes, the infection preventionist took on a lot more responsibilities in all of those areas. So although they may not have been the one responsible for implementing the visitation procedures, they had a lot of input in that PPE was huge, as was isolation strategies.”

All the additional responsibilities, of course, increased the number of hours an IP spent on IP duties. “One thing that came out very clear was that nursing home infection preventionists have a lot more responsibilities,” Jones explained. “And the time allotment has increased; it's almost doubled since COVID-19. It appeared in our previous surveys; infection preventionists in nursing homes spent on average 20 hours per week. Once COVID arrived…we saw nursing home infection preventionists spending more like 38 hours per week, that increased significantly. And if we broke it down further, we found that half of those nursing home infection preventionists were spending 40 hours or more per week on those infection prevention-related activities.”