It’s Infection Prevention Week! Recognizing our integral colleagues

October 17, 2022  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees

It’s International Infection Prevention Week 2022 — a chance to recognize those who keep our organization safe and healthy.

In addition to fighting a pandemic, the Infection Prevention & Epidemiology (IPE) team protects faculty and staff from surges in health care-associated infections, measles outbreaks, during flu season, and so many other day-to-day infectious battles. 

Here’s a closer look at two of these valuable team members!

Marissa Yee, infection preventionist

  • What is your role at Michigan Medicine and how long have you held your position?
    I have worked in IPE for more than six years. I started as a clinical information analyst and the hand hygiene data coordinator and have been an infection preventionist for almost four years.
  • What is the most satisfying part of your job?
    IPE actively participates in various interdisciplinary quality improvement projects and provides ongoing education to decrease infection risks among patients and employees. For me, the highlight of this work is when we share it with the surveyors of regulatory and accrediting agencies, such as The Joint Commission and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and they acknowledge the hard work of each employee, especially those who provide direct patient care. 
  • What is the most challenging part of your job?
    Infection preventionists are responsible for adhering to the surveillance definitions set by the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) when determining if a patient has a health care-associated infection (HAI), such as a central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) and catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI). There are times when we must report a CLABSI as the primary infection according to the surveillance definition and this is challenged by the clinical team’s determination that the CLABSI was secondary to another infection. IPs address this disagreement by explaining that there are differences in surveillance definitions and clinical diagnoses, and for national reporting, we must follow standardized definitions.
  • What is the one thing you would want people to know about the work you do?
    There is a lot more to the infection preventionist role than managing patients’ infection flags and tracking hand hygiene compliance. IPs are involved in a lot of different projects and have a wide range of responsibilities. We participate in construction projects from the pre-planning through activation phases, are liaisons with health departments and regulatory and accrediting agencies and conduct environmental rounds when there are floods and when mold is identified and needs to be remediated. IPs interact with all departments throughout MM and learn something new every day.    

Thomas Latchney, environmental health specialist

  • What is your role at Michigan Medicine and how long have you held your position?
    I am an environmental health specialist in IPE. I have held this position for more than two years. The focus of my work is on water management — and my duties include developing plans and policies, ensuring compliance with standards, and field testing/sampling to monitor system quality.
  • What is the most satisfying part of your job?
    Knowing that my work reduces the risk of potentially fatal hospital-acquired infections, like Legionnaires’ Disease, is very satisfying. It is the reason I decided to study and pursue public health. I’m sure many of my colleagues feel the same way and I am grateful to work with so many accomplished individuals.
  • What is the most challenging part of your job?
    My job often involves coordination from many different departments. To correct a water supply issue, I may need to contact Maintenance, Facilities Planning & Development, consultants, building owners, or the local municipality. It can be challenging to facilitate a swift and efficient response, but it is satisfying when the work is complete.
  • What is the one thing you would want people to know about the work you do?
    Water quality in health care is a rather emerging topic, hence recent amendments to make standards more comprehensive. Water is ubiquitous and essential to life, and it is important to understand the implications of water quality on susceptible populations. As it may sometimes be overlooked, I would like people to acknowledge the impact environmental health has on public health.

Stay tuned to Headlines throughout the week for more insight from IPE team members!

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