WhidbeyHealth Infection Preventionist Colleen Klamm has a passion for what she does.
“I do have a passion for infection prevention,” Klamm said.
That’s why Klamm is thrilled to announce that WhidbeyHealth has had no device-related Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) since last year. Before two were recorded in 2019, WhidbeyHealth has had NO device-related infections at the hospital since April 2015.
When the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head in March, Klamm became a veritable gumshoe detective for sniffing out possible infection starters at the hospital. She also noted that the education of staff and patients on prevention processes is key.
“Possible transmission of disease or pathogens is an ongoing process,” said Klamm.
“I have monitored all employee illnesses since 2016, but in 2020 we quickly moved from monthly employee illness reports to daily reporting, so that I could maintain a watchful eye for the protection of our staff and patients.”
Klamm identified actions that needed to be taken by the staff in order to adhere to the best practices for infection prevention, and of course, with the coronavirus, the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) became mandatory in many more situations.
“Infection Prevention can be complex and simple at the same time. If our staff is performing ‘best practices’ and if the patients are following through, everything comes together in a perfect juxtaposition of prevention,” Klamm said.
Patients may be asked to take an antimicrobial bath, let the nurse change their bed with clean sheets and put on clean pajamas, which all can be crucial to their care as it decreases the burden on their skin. This may require some education among patients so that they are aware that these actions help to reduce the bio-burden of bacteria on them and prevent the spread of infection.
In the midst of COVID-19, as science and our understanding of this new pathogen continue to evolve, Klamm’s role has been pivotal in leading the organization to proactively put evidence-based practices into place.
Education has always played a big role in infection prevention for physicians, nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), as well as for patients. WhidbeyHealth CNAs are trained to let patients know that they will be checking on their central line and their catheter frequently. They remind them that this is the best care for the patient.
“Things that may not seem important to patients can be very important to their care,” Klamm said.
Klamm has spearheaded efforts to implement sustainable practices that prevent HAIs and the proof of her work can be seen in our exceptionally low infection rates. With Klamm’s guidance, WhidbeyHealth has engaged our front-line staff to serve as champions for infection prevention by developing monitoring checks for patients with an in-dwelling device. These checks ensure that prevention interventions are performed every shift.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one in 25 hospitalized patients will get an infection as a result of the care they receive. An estimated 75,000 patients will die each year of Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAIs). Many hospitals and healthcare facilities have made the prevention and reduction of these infections a top priority. The most common infections include Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTI), Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections (CLABSI), and Ventilator Associated Events (VAE). Nurses are critical in keeping the patient safe from these device associated infections.
As of Aug. 1, 2020, WhidbeyHealth has had no device-related, Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAI) at the hospital this year and that includes infections from urinary catheters, central lines and ventilators.
“Our nurses are diligent about using proper technique with the care of these devices from insertion to discontinuation and every aspect in between and it shows,” Klamm said.
“I encourage everyone to talk to their family members about these best care practices and to be prepared if they become an inpatient at the hospital. Our patients’ collaboration in these practices is our best line of defense against these infections,” Klamm said.
WhidbeyHealth is a comprehensive healthcare system, offering a network of primary care and specialty clinics available at convenient locations, some offering extended office hours. Having a Primary Care Provider (PCP) can help you stay healthy. If you are in need of a provider, please visit our website at whidbeyhealth.org to find a provider near you.
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