The sudden and significant impact of the pandemic put infection preventionists at the forefront of efforts to keep staff and patients safe. Their knowledge and guidance have always been crucial, but responding to COVID-19 required them to act swiftly. Guidelines were constantly evolving, and many facilities struggled to digest the influx of new information while trying to figure out what new guidance was necessary and what might be overkill.
At the onset of the pandemic, staff at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center (TMC) in Houston felt extremely anxious. “Frontline nurses who hadn’t previously cared for patients with an infectious disease were now tasked with becoming intimately familiar with proper PPE procedures and attire,” says Rosemary Pine, PhD, RN, the medical center’s director of hospital education and professional development. “It became critically important to ensure that we educated staff about proper donning and doffing techniques.”
To quell her staff’s nerves, Dr. Pine went looking for guidance and was surprised at the limited research on best training practices for wearing PPE. “I ended up reviewing Ebola literature,” she says. “We didn’t know what COVID-19 was all about in the beginning, but we wanted to make sure our staff felt safe taking care of patients.”