Preventing the spread of infectious disease and bacteria is a critical mission for any hospital. At Indiana Regional Medical Center, that task is helmed by Lana Mason.
Mason joined IRMC earlier this year as its infection prevention coordinator, after spending nearly three decades at Memorial Medical Center. She came to IRMC with 13 years’ experience in infection prevention.
Mason, a registered nurse who holds a master’s degree in public health and is certified in infection control, says the hospital had established high standards of infection prevention before her arrival. She notes, however, it’s always wise to remind even the smartest and most careful people of the basics, as sometimes the simplest things can be the most easily overlooked.
When Mason joined IRMC at the end of January, she conducted a number of studies that provided her with baseline measurements on how well the hospital was handling infectious diseases. One of the simple areas that Mason wanted to remind employees about was hand hygiene. With bacteria and germs aplenty during the recent flu season, it was critically important for providers to ensure they cleansed their hands between each patient.
“Sometimes you have to go back to basics to make sure everyone is doing things properly,” Mason says.
To remind IRMC employees of the importance of washing hands and just how much that helps prevent the spread of infection, Mason launched a program called “Friction Rubs Out the Germs.” During the spring, there were fun activities for employees around the hospital to highlight the importance of hand hygiene. Small rewards were handed out to those employees who did well.
“We want to make sure that there will be plenty of hand hygiene care between patients, that’s an important thing to do,” she says.
Mason has also been focused on updating all IRMC documentation regarding infection. There are some areas that she also wants to hone in on regarding severe infections from bacteria including Clostridioides difficile and fungi such as candida auris, the latter which recently forced a New York hospital to remove parts of the floor and ceiling following a patient’s infection.
Clostridioides difficile, known as C. diff, is a bacterial infection that can cause diarrhea and colitis. It typically occurs when a patient is taking antibiotics or has just completed a regimen, and it can be deadly. Hand washing is absolutely imperative when dealing with patients, as is cleaning surfaces the patients have touched.
To aid surface disinfection, IRMC uses an ultraviolet cleaning program. Mason says when a patient is in C. diff isolation, staff brings in the ultraviolet device to bathe the area in its radiance and ensure the bacteria is destroyed on any surface the patient may have touched.
With growing concerns about C. diff and other bacterial threats, Mason says IRMC wants to make sure it is capable of handling any conceivable threat, including recent outbreaks of measles, like those that have occurred in New York. IRMC wants to ensure it advocates vaccination against such disease and also provides the proper type of isolation for patients in order to prevent outbreaks.
Mason says it’s equally important for visitors to obey protocol, so they don’t potentially spread such germs. IRMC must be able to handle any challenge, and she believes the hospital is well up to the task.
“IRMC is prepared to handle anything thrown at them,” she says. “For a small hospital, we are well prepared for anything that could come into the area.”