Grey Bruce Health Services operates six hospitals in Southwestern Ontario. The Markdale site, a 16-bed rural hospital, was experiencing problems with hospital acquired infections. There had been three outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant organisms (AROs) and one influenza outbreak within a year. Infection control staff had been providing education to advance infection control practices, but the message was not getting through.
Jo-Anne McConnell is the Infection Control Coordinator at the Grey Bruce main site in Owen Sound, as well as the five smaller rural sites in the area. She was familiar with the Safer Healthcare Now! Infection Control Intervention and joined the Stop Infections Now Collaborative (SINC) to look at new ways to eliminate the transmission of AROs at Grey Bruce. The Collaborative was led by experts from the University Health Network (IGNITE) in conjunction with other behavioural change consultants from Canada and the U.S.
“As an infection control practitioner, our role most often is to write policy, provide education and monitor compliance,” says McConnell. “It is refreshing to have compliance issues addressed at the frontline. Staff are there to assist, educate and lead infection control practices and when they take ownership of a problem and work together they come up with new ideas that produce effective long-term solutions.”
The Grey Bruce SINC team was comprised of volunteers from the Markdale hospital who were interested in addressing the infection control problem. The team included representatives from nursing, environmental services, pharmacy and an administrative staff member. “They volunteered because they were interested, not because their director told them they had to,” says McConnell. “They knew they had an issue on the medical/surgical unit and they wanted to do something about it.”
The Grey Bruce SINC team is extremely proud of the work they have done. They set a goal of 80 per cent hand hygiene compliance and in some months have reached 100 per cent. They have stepped up their hand hygiene auditing and have had more people volunteer to do the auditing. All kinds of interesting posters have been displayed, with seasonal eye catching images to draw your attention to cleaning your hands as you enter the medical/surgical unit. And, they have improved communication processes so that patients who need to be isolated are identified appropriately when being transferred from emergency to the medical/surgical unit.
Each month Grey Bruce does environmental audits of rooms that have been cleaned using ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) which is an enzyme that is present in all living cells. An ATP monitoring system can detect the amount of organic matter that remains on a surface after environmental cleaning has been done. The testing indicates if the equipment is clean or dirty. With a goal of 100 per cent compliance they are currently at 80 per cent and working hard to reach their goal. McConnell says that ATP testing has really brought about awareness throughout the hospital and the infection control staff are now being asked to come to the unit and bring the ATP tester as a way to promote routine cleaning.
The Grey Bruce SINC team recently had an opportunity to present their work to the hospital’s executive team. The team talked about what they had been working on for the past year and their results. The CEO and executive team were so impressed that they want the team to share all of the good things they are doing with other units at the Markdale hospital and throughout the other Grey Bruce sites.
“The methods and structures we learned during the SINC Collaborative can be applied to almost any problem in healthcare,” says McConnell. “We have to look at new ways of working together and this really is the answer to a lot the problems we face every day.”
For more information on the Stop Infections Now! Collaborative, visit www.saferhealthcarenow.ca.