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Infection Prevention Department: Central to Highland’s COVID-19 Efforts

Linda Greene, RN, MPN, CIC-FAPICLinda Greene, RN, MPN, CIC-FAPIC

Highland’s Infection Prevention Department has been immersed in Highland’s COVID-19 preparation and implementation efforts from the start. COVID preparations fall under the emergency management structure where Linda Greene, RN, MPN, CIC-FAPIC, department manager, Infection Prevention, serves as the lead for the Infection Prevention section working closely with Eric Heintz, M.D., hospital epidemiologist, and Michelle Vignari, RN, BSN, CIC, infection preventionist. Sherry Romig, RN, BSN,CIC, provides infection prevention COVID expertise in the areas of sterilization, disinfection, and facility issues. However, physicians and staff across the hospital are members of the emergency management team and the entire Infection Prevention team is working on issues surrounding COVID.

Ann Marie Pettis, RN, BSN, CIC, FAPIC, director, keeps a close eye on national trends and represents the national infection prevention organization by participating in weekly calls with the CDC. She networks with infection preventionists and epidemiologists all over the country. In addition, she works with the Public Relations department to provide support for public messaging and also ensures that the office and primary care practices are aligned with the hospital’s COVID prevention efforts. 

The staff in Infection Prevention answer a continuous stream of calls related to patients, advising what to do and what infection prevention measures need to be in place. “We keep everyone up to date with protocol changes from the university, and make sure they are communicated to the emergency management team,” said Greene. As the hospital ramped up to care for patients and prepare for a possible surge, the team met every day at 10 a.m. Now the meetings are several times a week.

Greene reports all COVID cases in the hospital as well as the number of suspected cases that are undergoing testing. Incoming patient charts are evaluated and tracked to see if they could have had prior exposure. “We communicate to departments, conduct rounds, and answer questions anyone has to assure all changes, policies, procedures, and updates are in place,” said Greene. The staff also communicates with Public Relations, nursing staff, and other teams and departments about issues such as testing protocols and patient flow.  

“This has proven to be an incredibly busy time at Highland, but one of the things it brings to light is the true spirit of collaboration,” said Greene. “No one is in this alone. It is truly bringing out the best in people.”


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