Ascension Saint Thomas: Lessons from COVID-19

Ascension Saint Thomas

Lessons from COVID-19: Practices to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections

2020 was an unprecedented year. It was exceptionally challenging for hospitals, health systems, and frontline workers; all of whom were facing the challenges of the pandemic with the rest of the world, as well as working long hours, through tough shifts; sacrificing time with their loved ones; and putting themselves at the very forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite these challenges and fears of the unknown, the staff at Ascension Saint Thomas rose to the call to provide the very best care for their patients and community. While juggling the more obvious necessities of the COVID pandemic, like caring for patients, COVID testing, and vaccinations, the team at Ascension Saint Thomas went above and beyond to develop and implement new processes and protocols to further enhance the safety of care and wellbeing of their patients.

Below are just a few examples of things that were implemented during the pandemic:

  • Infection Prevention (IP) Call Center to manage the 24/7 calls during the onset of the COVID pandemic
  • IP’s provided guidance and recommendations for new products and alternate PPE during the pandemic
  • Assisted with planning for surge capacity
  • Developed educational tools (posters, signage, videos, SBAR communications, audit tools) for healthcare personnel
  • Developed an Infection Prevention COVID Toolkit
  • Developed an exposure algorithm and talking points for associate and patient exposures to COVID
  • Provided recommendations for patients undergoing procedures or surgeries

More things that we implemented during the pandemic:

  • IP provided 24/7 coverage for the initial onset of the COVID pandemic
  • The Quality Team assisted IP in the first weeks of the pandemic manning phone lines and assisting with daily work
  • Trained chart abstractors to review cases of CAUTI events to assist with maintaining up to date data
  • IP team maintained all HAI data throughout pandemic
  • Participated in the AHRQ program at AST West for CAUTI and CLABSI reduction
  • All Ascension Saint Thomas IP’s are certified. Two certified during the pandemic
  • Contributed to the overall management of the pandemic and safety for healthcare personnel
  • Virtual meetings and work site option
  • Facility audits and assessments for COVID-19 safe practices
  • Modified isolation practices in an effort to conserve personal protective equipment
  • IP approved HVAC modifications for negative air flow
  • Developed recommendations for unit cleaning following COVID
  • Provided recommendations for areas with clusters
  • Developed a SharePoint site for COVID resources
  • Utilized light duty staff to conduct observations for hand hygiene and masking
  • Exposure work-up with contact tracing for exposure events in conjunction with Associate Health
  • Provided recommendations for COVID patient management and testing
  • Assisted with the development of pre-operative COVID testing
  • Facility assessment for hand sanitizer and placement of additional locations
  • Rounds in COVID locations to assess needs and practices and engage with healthcare workers
  • Provided IP updates at the System Incident Command
  • Maintained up to date HAI data and action items
  • Stratifed HAI data by COVID and non-COVID for device associated and Lab ID infections
  • Updates provided to various committees regarding the pandemic
  • Transitioned modifications implemented during the pandemic back to standard operating procedure
  • Dashboard and tracking spreadsheet developed for COVID data
  • Maintained efforts for survey readiness
  • Provided respite and support for IP team
  • Collaborated with the Resource Group regarding PPE options and approvals as well as recommendations for conservation approaches and now moving to normalize to standard practices
  • Assisted with national recommendations for Ascension Health
  • Assessed sites and set up of COVID screening stations for patients testing
  • Provided guidance related to COVID to leadership
  • Involved in set up of COVID vaccination clinics
  • Assessment of nursing home and behavioral health settings for COVID
  • Stayed up to date on guidelines and recommendations – Per CDC , TDH, THA, local and National
  • Maintained routine IP functions