Angela McGinn has been an Infection Control Practitioner (ICP) at Providence Care for the last six years. As an ICP within a complex organization, every day is a new challenge for Angela. With the ultimate goal of improving patient, client and resident outcomes – preventing health care associated infections is number one for the IPAC department. Angela works alongside three other ICP’s and Manager Jackie Potter.
The work that ICP’s do across our sites in stopping or limiting the spread of infections in our organization often occurs behind the scenes. Working diligently and closely with front-line staff, the results of their hard work is evident in Providence Care’s low infection rates. Managing clusters of illnesses and outbreaks can be incredibly difficult, but this small and mighty team often goes beyond the call of duty.
“I have the opportunity to work with so many amazing people from every department. Being part of the overall clinical care team, albeit usually behind the scenes, and knowing my work keeps patients safe is extremely rewarding. Protecting the most vulnerable from severe illness is so important,” says Angela.
A key role of an ICP is analyzing data to identify areas of concern. This comes in the form of lab reports and thoroughly reviewing patient and client charts. Providing best practice recommendations for the organization by reviewing numerous standards and guidance documents that frequently change is another big part of Angela’s job.
“By making sure best practices are followed to prevent infections from spreading, it ultimately produces a better outcome for the patient or client and saves the hospital money in isolation costs and increased lengths of stay,” says Angela. From inpatient units, to outpatient clinics or even construction project planning, there is simply nothing in health care that doesn’t benefit from an ICP’s knowledge and expertise.”
While COVID-19 was an unprecedented time for IPAC, managing a Varicella (chickenpox) outbreak on the Forensic Mental Health unit was a standout moment in Angela’s career. As a mom of three who is used to a busy schedule full of sporting events and activities, this particular outbreak kept her awake at night.
“Chickenpox is very contagious with a long incubation period – up to 21 days since the last exposure. This virus also requires airborne isolation which posed many ‘what ifs.’ The unit only had one negative pressure room, we didn’t know the vaccination status of the majority of the clients, and the use of N-95 respirators were not as common prior to the pandemic. Needless to say, it was a lot of work but we managed it well.”
Angela credits her supportive co-workers and her interest in IPAC that brings her joy and happiness to her job. Angela says that proper hand hygiene is the single most important, simplest and least expensive means of preventing the spread of health care acquired infections.
“The simple act of washing our hands has the power to prevent disease, protect our loved ones and save lives. Clean hands are a mark of responsibility and respect for ourselves and others. Let’s wear that mark proudly!”
IPAC strongly encourages everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible for Influenza and the updated COVID-19 vaccine. Visit KFL&A Public Health for further information.