WINCHESTER, Ky. — The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) announced the recipients of the Heroes of Infection Prevention Award, which honors infection preventionists who have successfully helped to reduce infection, raise awareness, and improve the health and well-being of patients, healthcare workers, and the public. Teresa Daniels, director of Infection Prevention and Employee Health at Clark Regional Medical Center & Bourbon Community Hospital, was one of six nationwide recognized for her achievements. Daniels dramatically improved patient safety at Clark Regional by creating a novel program that educates and engages environmental services (EVS) staff.
“Clark Regional is lucky to have someone as dedicated as Teresa to keeping patients safe,” said Barbara Kinder, CCO of Clark Regional. “She goes above and beyond as evidenced by her willingness to continue her education.”
When Daniels joined Clark Regional Medical Center as an infection preventionist in 2010, the facility was struggling to contain healthcare-associated Clostridioides difficile infection (HA-CDI) rates. Isolation and hand hygiene interventions had little impact.
“It dawned on me, ‘What about Environmental Services?,” said Daniels. “When I asked EVS staff about infection prevention practices, I often heard, ‘I don’t know, I’m just a housekeeper.’ I had to make them part of the healthcare team. Without a clean environment, infection prevention is not going to succeed.”
Daniels started by hosting a lunch and learn for EVS staff.
“I thought if I empowered them through education, they would understand their impact on patient safety so things could change,” Daniels said. Convinced she was on the right track, Daniels developed an educational program focusing on environmental surfaces contamination, multidrug-resistant organisms, high-touch cleaning, and terminal cleaning. “We used CDC environmental surfaces cleaning guidelines and APIC guidelines,” said Daniels. HA-CDI rates fell dramatically the following year. When Daniels initiated the program at a second hospital, their HA-CDI rate fell to zero.
Based on these successes, Daniels collaborated with her EVS team to create a three-level ladder program, focused on continuing education, certification, and performance improvement. To expand awareness about the importance of EVS in patient safety, Daniels recommended statewide “train-the-trainer” training for EVS staff to the Kentucky Hospital Association and the Association for the Health Care Environment. In 2018 Daniels hosted the first statewide training in the U.S. for Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Technicians (T-CHEST).
“It has been so fulfilling to watch EVS staff embrace their patient safety role, and to see hospital leadership embrace their role as well,” said Daniels.
“Teresa’s dedication to patient safety has had such a positive impact on our patients and staff at Clark Regional.” said Aphreikah DuHaney-West, CEO of Clark Regional. “Our top priority is patient safety, and Teresa’s passion and dedication for infection prevention is contagious. We’re lucky to have her as part of our team and helping Clark Regional in making communities healthier.