Maintaining commitment and resilience in an ever-changing environment

October 19, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,

The past year and a half has been unlike any other time at Michigan Medicine. That’s especially true for the dedicated team that makes up the Department of Infection Prevention & Epidemiology.

From constantly monitoring new research and guidelines, to evaluating disinfectants and personal protective equipment, to communicating with faculty and staff, IPE has had its hands full keeping everyone as safe as possible from COVID-19.

You can see their work in the hundreds of OPS updates that have been emailed out during the pandemic and in the constantly-evolving policies at Michigan Medicine.

In honor of International Infection Prevention Week, Headlines recently caught up with Amanda Valyko, M.P.H., C.I.C., FAPIC, the director of IPE. Valyko discussed the ever-changing situations her team has faced, what they have learned during the pandemic and more.

Here’s what she had to say:

Q: With an ever-changing situation, how does your team manage to stay on top of all the research, guidelines and other information coming at you from various directions? 

AV: It has been a challenge! The infection prevention team is comprised of an amazing group of highly-educated and trained individuals who are incredibly dedicated. They stay on top of both important updates from the CDC and professional organizations, as well as the misinformation out there. From that, our team shares updates and responses regularly via the IPE COVID-19 webpage and email updates. A number of team members sit on the boards of professional organizations and these linkages with others in the field are invaluable as we navigate the pandemic and share best practices.

Q: What has your team learned over the past 18 months that has changed or improved how you work and collaborate today and in the future? 

AV: The pandemic really changed the way we communicate. At the beginning, there could be significant changes in recommendations daily. We actually started date- and time-stamping all of our documents. Having a daily huddle with a defined structure has really helped to make sure the team is aware of important issues or ongoing work to ensure consistency as people respond to questions and requests. This daily touchpoint continues to this day and helps us stay aligned and in the loop. This has been critical as we have had to adapt to having a portion of the team working remotely.

Q: What are you most proud of in regard to your colleagues’ efforts since COVID-19 began? 

AV: Since the first rumblings of a novel coronavirus in January 2020, the IPE team has been working at an extreme pace to stay up-to-date with the rapidly-evolving science surrounding SARS-CoV-2 so that we’ve been able to make recommendations to provide a safe environment at U-M Health. 

My colleagues are all extraordinarily dedicated to the work that they do and, like everyone, are juggling multiple responsibilities. They have continued to provide expert guidance and data at a lightning-fast pace 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The ongoing support that team members provide each other is amazing. This team comes together to support each other, handle crises, and make sure that their coworkers have the ability to take time away when they need it. 

The pandemic has been beyond what any of us could have imagined in our careers and the commitment and resiliency of the team have allowed us to keep going.

Q: When you finally get the chance to turn off from work, what are some of your favorite hobbies or other activities

AV: I have two little boys at home, so we stay pretty busy. We like to ride bikes, take walks and play outside. When I have a moment, I love to read (things not related to COVID!).